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Longview transportation plan spends $34 million on corridor

By by Peggy Jones pljones@news-journal.com
April 17, 2012 at 10 p.m.


There's no easy way to get from northeast to northwest Longview - yet.

Say, you want to get from Eastman Road to Gilmer Road.

Your route will either take you along Loop 281 or Hawkins Parkway – either is fraught with traffic lights and congestion. Or, motorists could venture a little farther north to the two-lane FM 1844.

There's no easy way to get from northeast to northwest Longview - yet.

Say, you want to get from Eastman Road to Gilmer Road.

Your route will either take you along Loop 281 or Hawkins Parkway – either is fraught with traffic lights and congestion. Or, motorists could venture a little farther north to the two-lane FM 1844.

Regional planners have a $34 million fix called George Richey Road which, they envision, will link Gilmer Road to U.S. 259 during the next few years.

The Longview Metropolitan Planning Organization's governing board meets today to consider final approval of a 22-page plan that turns FM 2275 into a four-lane, divided highway.

The proposed thoroughfare - known as George Richey Road - has been "on the books for 14 or 15 years as an east-west corridor for Longview's north side," said Karen Owens, transportation planning manager for the city of Longview.

Owens said the city has several good north-south thoroughfares, including Judson Road (Spur 502), Gilmer Road (Texas 300) and U.S. 259.

But the east-west traffic flow in the northern part of the city is not strong, she said.

"Hawkins Parkway is at capacity now," Owens said. "As the city is growing, we must provide east-west circulation."

Owens said the only other east-west thoroughfare is FM 1844, a narrow, two-lane road with no shoulders.

"If we don't build George Richey," she said, "Hawkins and the loop will become over-capacitated in the coming years."

The draft calls for building George Richey Road in stages.

The first two stages, to be contracted in 2013 and constructed during 2014, would be built with state and local funds, Owens said.

Stage 1 will connect Judson Road to U.S. 259 at Henderson Lane at an estimated cost of $8.2 million. The draft estimates spending more than $900,000 to acquire right of way for that portion of George Richey Road.

The second stage of the project extends the four-lane highway from Judson Road to McCann Road, intersecting just north of Graystone Road. That phase of the project is estimated to cost about $9.2 million with $50,000 expected to be spent for right of way acquisition.

Owens said the plan calls for the projects to be bid in August 2013 with work beginning around October 2013.

In 2015, the long-range project calls for building the four-lane thoroughfare all the way to Texas 300 - or Gilmer Road - at a cost of $16.8 million. More than $1.5 million of that project would be spent to acquire rights of way.

Owens called funding for George Richey "multi-agency partnership at its finest," pulling monies from the state, county, city and Longview Economic Development Corp.

The draft calls for three major road improvement projects.

In 2013, the Metropolitan Planning Organization's draft calls for sealing and coating U.S. 80 from FM 3272, or White Oak Road, to Fisher Road.

In 2015, the plan calls for spending $2.5 million to repair and re-pave Loop 281 from near Interstate 20 to Texas 31.

And in 2016, the plan calls for improving the traffic signal at Gilmer Road and FM 1844 by installing advance warning signs and signals.

The MPO's governing board will consider the proposal when they meet today.

The voting members of the Longview MPO Policy Board are Longview Mayor Jay Dean, White Oak Mayor Rick May, Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, Harrison County Commissioner James Greer, Longview City Manager David Willard, Longview Director of Public Works Keith Bonds, Longview Director of Development Services Kevin Cummings, and Texas Department of Transportation district engineers Randy Hopmann and Robert Ratcliff.

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