Gainesville Daily Register

October 16, 2012

TxDOT public meeting will address Highway 82 issues

Special to the Register
Gainesville Daily Register

Gainesville — Representatives of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) have arranged a public meeting for the purpose of soliciting public comments on a feasibility study of U.S. Highway 82 in Cooke County.

The public meeting, set for 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at Gainesville Civic Center, is intended to enrich a study of Highway 82 — the area of it that spans from FM 1198 to FM 678.

The study is intended to identify existing transportation challenges and provide solutions that will accommodate future traffic needs.

“This is just a planning phase,” said TxDOT public relations officer Adele Lewis. “And it completely matters that people show up.”

The meeting will offer an “open house” format with the intent to present alternate reliever routes or loops that will reduce congestion along the Highway 82 corridor through Gainesville; improve connectivity between Highway 82 and Interstate Highway 35; and to receive public input and discuss the next steps in the study process.

Maps, drawings, and other information about the project will be on display at the meeting in order to allow interested persons to learn more about the feasibility study. TxDOT project personnel will be available to assist in orientation and interpretation of the drawings and other material on hand and discuss possible mobility and environmental effects.

Lewis explained that TxDOT conducts highway-related feasibility studies (and their public meetings) every few years, and the process always begins very broadly. TxDOT representatives always present several ideas in the initial phase, and many of them don’t survive this phase since feedback from vocal local residents — the people actually affected by highway construction — has an effect on the final decisions that are made.

“The public input totally makes a difference,” she said. “We’ve got this wide swathe of ideas and we need to narrow this down. One of the ways we can choose to narrow it down is to say, ‘Don’t build it at all.’ But then if the population keeps increasing down there, they’ll need more ways to travel on Interstate 35 and Highway 82. So, (to not build) won’t work.

“We have to some sort of compromise for some sort of solution,” she added. “And this public input process is so vital right now. We want something that will work and that the communty can embrace and handle and deal with.”