by Victor Lopez
ANDREWS--The Andrews City Council is looking at creating a loop around the city to ease the congestion. But as NewsWest 9 found out, that plan has a long way to go before it's completed.
Truck drivers have been urged to stay out of downtown Andrews for some time now. City officials hope that construction of this new route will bring some much needed relief to an ongoing and increasing problem.
According to City Manager Glen Hackler, "We believe we have between 600 and 800 trucks a day that travel down Main Street coming out of Amarillo and Lubbock and going to the Interstate there in Odessa."
With an increase of almost 80% in recent years, city officials have been looking into ways to reduce the amount of 18-wheeler traffic along Main Street.
Hackler says they are now in the early stages of a complicated but necessary project, "The primary purpose of the truck reliever route is to relieve truck traffic, 18-wheeler traffic, on Main Street in Andrews, which is also US 385. There's been a real interest level locally, in fact, a survey of our citizens showed that 83% said it was the number one need of our community, to address truck traffic."
Mustang Drive has been used as a truck route for several years, but that might not be an option for much longer.
"The issue is that Mustang has developed with a high school and hospital on the Northwest and Northeast parts of town, so it's no longer condusive to really routing trucks that direction," Hackler said.
The new route would eventualy be a loop around the city. But, as Hackler explains, there are some issues to be addressed, before construction gets underway, "There's development, both north and south of town. So, how can we easily and effectively bring that (the loop) back together, without adversly affecting existing development or homes?"
Neither state nor federal monies will fund the project, which could cost between 10 and 12 million dollars. So who's left footing the bill? Hackler explains, "There are funding scenarios that need to be discussed and ultimately decided upon that could involve a vote of our public."
The new truck route could be Andrews' saving grace, so it's definitley a plan city officials are not taking lightly, "It's easily, probably the most challenging and complicated project that the City of Andrews has tackled in the eight years that I have been here. So we're just trying to work through that in the best way possible," Hackler said.
If everything goes according to plan, construction on the western portion of this reliever route could start by late 2010.