By Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND - It's not the most expensive new project, but it's hands down the most important.
A busy road in Midland will be expanded in order to cut down the time it takes for ambulances to get to the hospital.
"Today, if you come off the interstate, you almost have to weave your way to the hospital in Midland," said Glen Larum with TXDOT. "A direct connect would be much more effective."
TXDOT and the City of Midland are planning to extend Garfield Street. Soon, it will connect Interstate 20 to Midland Memorial Hospital, and E.M.S. says that's going to make a big difference in their response time.
"That will cut us down on traffic and things of that sort and that's a really big asset for us," said David Hickman, Asst. Fire Marshall, Midland.
A five lane roadway will lead into the hospital district.
"When you're in a business like emergency medical responders are, in which seconds save lives, a direct connect from the interstate to the hospital in Midland just makes a lot of sense," Larum said.
It will cost $5.2 million, of which TXDOT will pay $1.7 million, and the city will pick up the rest.
Midland has seen tremendous growth over the past few years - the new roadways and traffic congestion has made it more difficult for E.M.S. to quickly get to the hospital.
"It wasn't a matter of being put in the wrong place, it just happened that over time things changed," Larum said. "The transportation network changed."
At this point, TXDOT isn't sure when construction will get underway, but right now they're planning for 2009.
TXDOT is also proposing interstate interchanges in East Midland to the tune of $40 million. Money has also been dedicated for the 349 relief route around the northwest side of the Tall City.