Officials to Add Lanes on Highway 349 Between Midland, Dawson County

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Highway 349 has become notorious as a hot spot for wrecks and rollovers. Now something is finally being done about it.

Plans of expanding Highway 349 from Midland County to Dawson County have been in the works for nearly two years but soon that will be a reality. Gene Powell with the Texas Department of Transportation tells NewsWest 9, alot of factors come into play for expanding Highway 349.

"We've known for a while that we wanted to do some improvements on the road, but it was identified as a need to make it four lanes," Powell said.

Powell says there are many factors they look into before considering expanding a road such as Highway 349, for example peak traffic times.

"One of the things that we look at is obviously a traffic count and the number of vehicles on the road. We look at the mix of traffic, how much is 18 wheelers? How much is commercial traffic and how much is passenger traffic," Powell said.

Believe it or not, they even look into the economic impact an improved road can have for surrounding areas.

"The economic impact that can come with improvement of roads, we look at safety issues along the roadway. All these kinds of things go into that kind of decision," Powell said.

He says although they knew of the need to expand the highway, there is a lengthy process before the contract is awarded to any company.

"The way it works for TXDOT is we identify needs years in advance and we put it in our programming and once funding becomes available we are able to do that. It's a lengthy process," Powell said.

The road work will be between Midland County and Dawson County, that's about a 45 mile stretch. The construction is set to start early next year and last about a year and a half.