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Gregg County OKs study aimed at improving intersection

By Christina Lane
June 16, 2014 at 10 p.m.

Gregg County Commissioners took a step Monday in a process to add safety improvements to a heavily trafficked intersection in northeast Longview.

Commissioners unanimously approved spending $17,265 with Collins Surveying and Mapping Inc. for surveying services and $12,500 with Maly and Associates Inc. for engineering services for a preliminary design and schematic work for safety improvements at Hawkins Parkway and Tryon Road.

"There was concern from the citizens there as well as the commissioner. Before that development is complete, we needed to look at having an in-depth study done to that intersection," County Judge Bill Stoudt said of the intersection that <a href="http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/new-hawkins-parkway-extension-opens-to-public/article_b20616f1-a3cf-5220-8224-52abf7f84882.html" target="_blank">opened this past fall</a>. "Tryon is a major thoroughfare. Having a controlled intersection there will probably be needed. The engineering service will look at that intersection and provide us with a recommendation."

The city of Longview in October opened an extension of Hawkins Parkway that connects Eastman Road to Tryon Road. The extension, with two lanes of traffic and a dedicated turn lane, was built as a result of a developer participation agreement between the city and Abby Development, which is constructing Arabella of Longview. The assisted living facility and an independent living facility and apartments are being built along Hawkins Parkway behind the Longview Towne Crossing shopping center.

Longview city limit end where Hawkins and Tryon meet, so responsibility for the intersection falls to Gregg County.

Stoudt said traffic to the area, particularly through that intersection, had increased with the construction.

Once the preliminary design is completed, Gregg County plans to do much of the actual work itself to install the safety improvements; however, Stoudt said the county wanted recommendations and a study from an engineering company before beginning.

He said improvements might include turn lanes on north and south Tryon Road. The study will likely include a recommendation on whether the intersection needs to be controlled, such as with a stop light, he added.

Stoudt estimated it would take about a month for the study to be completed and a final recommendation to be sent to the Commissioners Court.

In other business, commissioners approved a computer use policy and spending $138,308 to replace a roof on the juvenile building.

The roof on the juvenile building is more than 30 years old, and Stoudt said while the county has patched it for years, the roof is now beyond that point and needed to be replaced.

Hayes Miller Roofing of Longview was awarded the contract after providing a low bid. Curtis-McKinley Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc. of Longview provided a bid of $198,750.

The county decided to form the computer policy after receiving a recommendation from outside auditors last month that there should be a defined usage policy.

The policy adopted by commissioners stipulates that online services, email and Internet are to be used for county business only and details rules regarding social networking.

Stoudt said the policy will be sent to all department heads for them to review it and submit a response. Commissioners can revise the policy based on responses from the departments; however, the policy still takes effect immediately.

The court tabled a decision on whether to award a feasibility study for parking and courthouse facilities to Thacker/Davis Architects to receive some additional information.

Commissioners decided in April to extend a study of whether to build a downtown parking garage to include a study of space usage of the courthouse itself.

"The scope is pretty broad," Stoudt said Monday. "We're not just talking about a parking facility. We've got a lot of space in the courthouse on the sixth and seventh floors that has not been used in decades. We're looking at all space management of the courthouse and how we can better utilize it."

The request wasn't defined Monday to the detail that the court wanted, so they opted to postpone a decision to provide time for that.

Stoudt said he expects it to be discussed again in the next couple of weeks.



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