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Highway oilfield segment tabled

By Glenn Evans
July 15, 2014 at 11 p.m.

MARSHALL - Planners of a highway linking South Tyler to North Marshall tabled discussions Tuesday on how to get across the active oilfield below the heart of the Northeast Texas Hourglass project.

The area around Clarksville City in Gregg County was scrapped last spring as unsuitable for the ambitious highway, which will connect Tyler's Toll 49 Loop with Marshall's Loop 390.

A continuation of Toll 49, which like the rest of the hourglass project will be operated by the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority, is mapped out to continue from Interstate 20 to north of Lindale.

With that segment underway, the 17-member mobility authority turned its attention last winter to planning the segments that would connect southeastern Tyler with Gregg County north of Longview.

Segment 7A underwent an environmental study and was proceeding when local oil and gas producers put a stop to that plan.

They faced little if any resistance from the urban planners and economic development leaders on the mobility authority.

The glitch in plans provided backdrop for a brief discussion Tuesday on why planners want the hourglass.

"Why are we doing this?" asked Hudson Old, chairman of the panel's long-range planning committee. "What's the purpose?"

That prompted Gregg County representatives Tim Vaughn, Keith Honey and Dave Spurrier to describe the Hourglass as an attractive route for anyone wanting to turn west from Interstate 69, another planned project that in this area will follow U.S. 59.

"Ultimately, if and when I-69 is developed, there will obviously be a significant amount of traffic flowing north-south on that corridor," board Secretary Spurrier said after the meeting.

"And if they choose to, they can go west, north of Marshall and north of Longview, to I-20."

An alternative route for Segment 7A of the project will not be designated by the panel until next month's meeting at the earliest.

U.S. 271 has been mentioned favorably as an option for the route in the last two monthly meetings.

"The city of Gladewater will benefit from economic development if we use 271," said Vaughn at Tuesday's meeting in the 1901 Historical Harrison County Courthouse.

Board Vice Chairman Gary Halbrooks wasn't so sure.

"I understand they are not wild about using 271," he said, referring to Gladewater leaders.

The question of crossing the oilfield was tabled Tuesday.

A corresponding, east-west, connector between U.S. 271 and U.S. 259 north of Longview has been proposed. Called Segment 7B, that stretch was not discussed at length Tuesday.

That segment tentatively is envisioned south of Gilmer, almost evenly between the east-west corridors of Seven Pines Road, (FM 1844), and Texas 154.



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