Center city officials surprised by new traffic study results

Jim Gibson
Jim Gibson

Big business for a small city. A new traffic study conducted in Center is alarming city leaders.

Center, Texas-- population 5,678. This small East Texas city sees big activity. City officials are surprised to learn the results of a February traffic study. Turns out Center's traffic compares with cities twice their population.

"We attribute the traffic to all this activity from the oil and gas drilling and exploration that is going on in Shelby County but it's also that 96 is a major US highway that goes all the way to Beaumont," said Jim Gibson, Economic Development Coordinator for the city of Center.

Gibson says the traffic count study analyzed 19 different locations on both a Friday and Saturday.

"The peak times on Friday were in the mid to early evening and on Saturday the peak times were around noon," said Gibson.

On both Friday and Saturday, the busiest intersection was Hurst Street north and Highway 7. On Friday alone, more than 19,000 vehicles passed through here.

Gibson says the study draws an important conclusion-- Center's population can be misleading.

"These are traffic counts that are not reflective of our population," said Gibson.

With traffic numbers comparable to cities of 10 to 20 thousand people, Gibson says these figures will help attract newcomers.

"We hope to use it as a way to try and recruit some more businesses, some more retail and restaurants here to the city."

With roughly 3,000 making a daily commute to and from Center, Gibson says the need for new business activity will continue to grow.

The next busiest intersections in Center are Hurst and Rough Rider Drive, followed by Hurst and State Highway 87.       

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