East Texas residents weigh in on proposed highway relief route

East Texas residents weigh in on proposed highway relief route

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - The cold and rainy weather didn't stop Diboll residents from attending a Texas Department of Transportation open house Thursday night. About 50 residents and staff members packed the Diboll Civic Center to discuss a relief route for drivers. The proposed route would run along the U.S. 59 corridor and be called Interstate 69.

Chris and Meredith Walker attended the meeting in search of answers. Chris says he was happy with what he heard.

"I think this relief route will be a good thing for the City of Diboll," said Chris Walker. "It will relieve all the traffic that comes through 59. At times things can get congested with all the 18-wheelers that come through."

Project Manager Kelly Morris says Chris isn't the only one that sees the traffic jam on U.S. 59.

"The Angelina and Nacogdoches Counties Committees looked at past studies on the area and talked to residents and found that scoping the Diboll relief route is the number one priority for Angelina County," said Morris.

"By looking at the maps, we figured that the route is going to be a half mile from our house," said Chris Walker.

The route's location doesn't sit well with Chris' wife.

"We are hearing that they are going to have to cut down some of the trees along the back of our house where we walk," said Meredith Walker.

She says she and Chris moved to Diboll from Houston 14 years ago for the scenery and now that's in jeopardy. Meredith is also concerned how this new route will affect her neighbors.

"There are business on the route that might have to relocate and they might not be able to afford the rent, therefore causing them to go out of business," said Meredith Walker.

Diboll Mayor John McClain doesn't see this as a problem.

"People in Diboll will continue to support the local businesses," said McClain. "So I don't see them going out of business."

Meredith says she is willing to make the sacrifice if this means economic growth and improvement for her community.

Toward the end of the meeting, most of the residents were in favor of the proposed route.

The projected cost for the relief route is $125 million. As of now, TXDOT has six million dollars available for it. Officials say the rest of the money will have to come from the state and county.

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