TXDOT Hosts Second Meeting Regarding FM 1788 Project - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

TXDOT Hosts Second Meeting Regarding FM 1788 Project

Updated:

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9


MIDLAND COUNTY - The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) had their second meeting about FM 1788 on Tuesday night.

That will happen as soon as TxDOT gets construction authority to start making moves.

"We got some 40 million additional dollars more in planning authority, so it's kind of like play money," James Beauchamp, President of the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance, said.

That money, which is separate from money for energy impacted roads, is used to hire consultants to make schematics and discuss options.

"Doesn't move dirt at all, it just puts projects on the shelf until funding for construction becomes available," Gene Powell, Public Information Officer for TxDoT, said.

Based on comments from the last meeting, consultants drafted schematics of possible lane expansion in the stretch of road between Highway 191 and Highway 158. They've arrived at two possible choices- either a three lane or four lane road north of the Highway 349 cutoff.

Officials say the public favors the three lanes in order to have a separate turning lane they feel is much needed.

"The turn lane at least gives people a place to go while they're waiting to turn. It doesn't slow the flow of traffic, I think it's a great alternative," Pam Darby, a concerned citizen, said.    

But they want the public to have the final say.

Powell said that TxDot will still be taking comments for another few weeks. Regardless of whether the public votes on three lanes or four lanes after the Highway 349 cutoff, the stretch of road between Highway 191 and Highway 349 will be five lanes.

And there's a reason for the lack of continuity.

"Once we get past the Highway 349 cutoff, we don't have the right of way," Powell said. 

That means it would be more expensive to expand the roads and TxDot said they don't anticipate having enough money to do that.  Moreover, saving that money would help with another project TxDot has in the piggy bank related to FM 1788- for changes between Interstate 20 and BI-20 (Highway 80).

"It is abnormally high even in terms of the Permian Basin in the amount of truck traffic," Beauchamp said.

He estimates trucks make up 16-17 percent of traffic on most roads, whereas in the Basin it could be around 30 percent. And estimates FM 1788 has up to 65 percent truck traffic, especially at the intersection with the Pilot and McDonalds.

"One of the things we did ask the department to do was look at that intersection and see if we could install a light at the diagonal there," Beauchamp said.  

Powell says if they have enough feedback from the public to move forward with the projects, they will.

"If it's a situation where we need to have another meeting or put our heads together with somebody else then we'll do that as well," Powell said. 

There is no set timeline for the project but one of the final steps to this process is for TxDoT to get construction authority.

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