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Project to close lanes on two busy Longview roads

By Sherry Koonce
Oct. 31, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Motorists driving into Longview from the south should expect delays in the coming weeks as workers complete the final phase of a resurfacing project along two highly traveled roads.

For about the next three weeks, final resurfacing will be completed along sections of Estes Parkway and Eastman Road.

Larry Krantz, spokesman with the Texas Department of Transportation's Tyler office, said he expects the project to be finished by the week of Thanksgiving, weather permitting.

Construction of the $2.6 million project started in August 2011 and included realigning the Texas 149 intersection with Texas 322 and resurfacing between Interstate 20 frontage and the railroad tracks. It also included widening and resurfacing Texas 322 between I-20 frontage and Texas 149.

According to Krantz, the project is funded by Gregg County and administered by TxDOT.

The project also called for upgrading various large interstate guides signs in Gregg County.

The final phase will begin next week.

At about 9 a.m. Monday, center lanes will be closed for about a mile stretch along Estes Parkway, from I-20 to just south of the railroad tracks near Sysco Foods, Krantz said.

One outside lane in each direction will be open during the initial surfacing project.

Krantz said he expects the center lanes to be surfaced by Tuesday or possibly Wednesday.

As soon as the hot-mix surface is laid on the center lanes, traffic will shift to the inside lanes while the outside lanes are closed.

When the section of Estes Parkway is completed, final surfacing work will begin on Eastman Road, from Estes to I-20.

The procedure is the same - center lanes will be closed first then the outer lanes.

"Motorists should know that there might be times when they may not be able to make certain turns. Those periods will be brief in duration," Krantz said.

During those times, motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes.

"Our goal is to minimize conflict and friction between workers needing to get the work done and people getting where they need to go," Krantz said.

The latest TxDOT data indicates about 21,000 motorists daily travel along the Estes Parkway area designated for final surfacing. About 10,600 vehicles travel the Eastman Road location daily.

Those numbers come as no surprise to Dean Bingham.

The senior vice president at Texas Bank on Texas 149 said he watches the flow of traffic daily from his office window and expects it to become much worse while the lanes are closed.

Bingham said he does not anticipate bank customers will have problems getting to the bank because there are alternate routes, mainly through the Walmart parking lot.

What he does expect is traffic coming to a near crawl.

"I think it will create a tremendous amount of traffic when those lanes close and traffic has to squeeze into just one lane," Bingham said. "There are a tremendous amount of people living south who work in Longview. Already, in the morning when people are coming to work and school, there is a tremendous amount of traffic."

Ken Burns, human resource and safety manager at Tri-W Construction on South Eastman Road, is not so sure company employees or customers won't find it difficult to navigate the lane closures.

In the past couple of months, while cones were placed in the road from another phase of the project, traffic was backed up.

"When the cones were out there, people could still maneuver around them. With the lanes closed, you cannot cut across from one side to the other," Burns said,

Typically, the oil field service company has 40 to 50 employees and customers at the facility. Of those, up to 10 a day are big delivery trucks.

Burns said although the company has a road across the back of its property, traffic coming from the north will have to be rerouted because the vehicles cannot cross the closed lanes.

"It will be a pain. We will have to redirect traffic in and out of here," he said.

Longview Bridge and Road is the contractor.



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