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Board OKs new east-west corridor for Longview

By Peggy Jones pljones@news-journal.com
April 18, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Members of the Metropolitan Planning Organization policy board voted Wednesday to accept the 2013-16 Transportation Improvement Program projects - paving the way for construction of George Richey Road.

It was not a snap decision.

Converting George Richey Road to an east-west corridor that connects Gilmer Road to Eastman Road has been in the planning for more than a decade. So in making the vote, leaders of Longview and Gregg County knew how the $34 million project would be paid for.

"We budgeted for it," Longview Mayor Jay Dean said. "The money will come from the capital improvement fund. There will be no tax increase whatsoever."

Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt said the same.

"This will be paid for out of existing funds," the judge said.

With the unanimous vote of the MPO governing board, work begins in earnest on Phase 1 of the massive construction project, said Assistant City Manager Chuck Ewings.

Phase 1 will connect U.S. 259 to McCann Road and will be bid in two segments, Ewings said.

The first segment of the project connects U.S. 259 to Judson Road, while the second segment of Phase 1 construction links Judson Road to McCann Road.

The two segments will be built simultaneously, Ewings said, with work beginning in late 2013 and continuing through 2014.

According to documents provided by the city, the Texas Department of Transportation will pay $3 million of the total cost for the first phase of construction and the Metropolitan Planning Organization will contribute $3.4 million.

The remaining $11 million will come from local funds - divided between the city, Gregg County and the Longview Economic Development Corp.

The city and LEDCO will each pitch in $3 million, and the county will give $5.9 million.

Phase 2 of the project is scheduled to begin in 2015, connecting McCann Road to Gilmer Road at a total cost of $16.8 million.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization foots the lion's share of that phase, with $13.5 million.

"That's the federal dollars," Ewings said.

The state will chip in $739,000 with the remainder of the cost coming equally from the local entities.

"We can do this because we have focused on financial stability every since I've been in office," Dean said.

"I am a big believer that you have to have proper infrastructure in place for growth," Stoudt said. "George Richey is a perfect example. It's been on the books for years.

"The last few years," he said, "the partnership we have created has enabled us to pool our resources so we're able to accomplish a whole lot more together than any of us could have accomplished alone."



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