Reagan County Steps In to Speed Up TXDOT Project

Reagan County Steps In to Speed Up TXDOT Project

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

REAGAN COUNTY - The traffic between Big Lake and San Angelo is unbelievable, a downright nightmare. That's according to Reagan County Judge Larry Isom. Specifically he's talking about Highway 67.

"Right now, people pass on the shoulder or any which way they can," Isom said.

The Texas Department of Transportation knows about it as well.

"Well of course with all the truck traffic driven largely by the oilfield activity, that's become a real pervasive problem on Highway 67 especially on the way to San Angelo," Isom said.

So the San Angelo District Office proposed a $9 million project two years ago geared towards improving the highway. 

Those changes could be underway soon. But not without some help.

"Of course everyone's working on a shoestring and a very limited budget, so we didn't have the opportunity to or the means - the financial means - to do it on our own that soon," John DeWitt, Director of Transportation Planning and Development at TXDOT San Angelo, said.

But Reagan County officials couldn't risk waiting. So the Commissioners Court voted unanimously to help fund the project. They'll contribute about $400,000 to get the ball rolling, a donation that had become a pleasant surprise.

"This is the first run for a county or a city to donate money to the construction and development of a project without a required match that's built into some of our programs anyway, so it's pretty exceptional and I think they should be commended for that," DeWitt said.

Isom said the numbers were calculated based on work that officials felt would be needed three years down the road. But the trade off in bringing the start date up is that the improvements will also cost significantly less- almost a third less- overall.

With both pots of money, TXDOT says they have just enough money to be able to start this year on the newly estimated $3.4 million "Super 2" project. That means every three to four miles there will be a mile long passing lane added on both sides. So parts of Highway 67 will be four lanes.

"So they're gonna do a lot of work and slow the traffic down so we have more room to operate," Isom said. "Everybody's real enthused with it." 

They say once the project kicks off, it'll take about nine months to a year to complete.

Officials say now they're just working on getting the donation legally approved. They expect the project to go to contract in the summer and start construction by fall.