Throughout the state of Texas and the Northeast Texas region, the Texas Department of Transportation has several ongoing projects to improve state roads. However, most of the department’s money goes towards regular upkeep and rehabilitation, instead of those long-term goals.
In Fiscal Year 2018, TxDOT spent a total of $19,941,577 in Lamar County, $9,588,818.05 in Red River County, $12,429,435.18 in Delta County and $22,576,848.76 in Fannin County.
According to TxDOT Director of Transportation Planning and Development Dan Perry, road rehabilitation and spot repairs account for the majority of TxDOT’s work, and typically totals roughly $50 million per year through the nine-county Paris district.
Rehabilitation can include paving, striping, adding culverts, installing guardrails and more, Perry said.
“A lot of times, these are roads that were built in the 1950s or 60s and require regular maintenance,” Perry said. “They’ve served their purpose and done well, but agricultural traffic is two and a half to three times heavier than it was then, so these ran out of their design life decades ago and we’ve been patching them together and piecing them together since.”
Rehabilitation can include Last year, rehabilitation projects in Lamar County included maintenance on FM 2648, FM 38, FM 107 and more. TxDOT also worked heavily on bridge repairs throughout Lamar County, Perry said.
TxDOT also completed resurfacing from Paris to Bogata along Highway 271, Perry added.
“Looking at 271, 271 has a bunch of truck traffic on it, and it’s a heavily driven route from Mount Pleasant, so we did a lot of resurfacing on it. It’s got new shoulders, new guardrail and we wanted to make it as safe as possible.”
In Red River County, one of TxDOT’s biggest projects last year was paving along Highway 82 through the county. TxDOT also added a chip seal to several roads through Red River County.
TxDOT also safety-treated from Deport to the Titus County line and from Sulphur River to the Oklahoma state line, said area engineer Daniel Taylor. Red River County roads which saw rehab work included FM 1158 and FM 412, Taylor said.
In Fannin County, TxDOT’s biggest ongoing project in 2018 was widening work, with Highway 82 seeing work to expand to four lanes.
With Highway 82, Perry said work will begin next year to widen the highway to four lanes from Bonham to the Lamar County line, and the ultimate goal being to connect it with I-30 in New Boston.
“We’ve got it to Bonham now, and the next step is to take it to the Lamar County line,” he said.
Delta County also saw widening work in 2018, along Highway 24, which was completed earlier this year from Cooper to the Hunt County line, Perry said.
“That’s kind of a watershed moment, and we’re excited about that,” Perry said. “It’s a four-lane connection to an interstate and it’s been open for several weeks. We want to look at it and make sure we’ve got everything the way we want it before we let the contractor off the hook, but other than that, the work is done. That’s a big deal.”
Looking toward the future, TxDOT plans on continuing widening on Highway 82 from Honey Grove to Paris. Construction on that project likely won’t begin until 2023, Perry said.
“We’ve got engineers designing that now and are excited to get underway,” Perry said. “We’ll begin holding public meetings for that in fall to share some ideas for that we’ve come up with. As you can imagine, there are a lot of different options and we need to consider the need.”
Perry said other future work includes widening Highway 271 from Paris to Titus County.
Lamar County Judge Brandon Bell said he’s looking forward to the highway widening, as he thinks it could provide a big boost for Lamar County.
“It’ll be great for a lot of reasons, I think,” Bell said. “It will help with safety and congestion, but also, any time we can get more people to come into Lamar County, that’s a good thing.
“These people aren’t just driving through. A lot of times they’re sleeping in our hotels, eating at our restaurants.”
Bell also said he sees a need to improve safety on state roads, which is something TxDOT is working towards as well.
“I think some of our roads can be safer, like the spot where the loop turns into 271 South,” Bell said.
In April, TxDOT hosted an informational meeting to show the public some ideas for potential changes to a number of roads in Lamar County and to receive feedback. Some of the proposed alterations involved simple work such as adding turning lanes, while others were more intricate, involving changes like adding overpasses.
“Obviously, the length of time these projects will take or what the funding will be varies,” Perry said.
TxDOT plans to host another informational public meeting in the fall, though no date has been officially set yet.