TxDOT puts multiple projects including widening US 69 on priorit - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

TxDOT puts multiple projects including widening US 69 on priority list

Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) -

For years, Debbie Abens has been praying for changes to US Highway 69 between Huntington and Zavalla.

Abens believes the highway is too dangerous.

"There's not enough safety in this highway," Abens said. "There's not enough."

holding back tears, Abens recalled the time she was hit in her driveway in 2002 and then 11 years later when her friend Michael Yates was killed at the same spot. Yates died in a crash where his vehicle was hit while he was attempting to turn into Abens' driveway. It is a wreck that still haunts Abens.

"I jump out of the bed sometimes because I can still hear...It was like... um It's a sound that trucks make coming by loud," Abens said.

A scheduled expansion is on the horizon as part of a 20-year priority list by the Texas Department of Transportation The $65 million project will expand the two-lane highway to four lanes from Huntington to Zavalla. 

The project was approved last week in Austin to go on the 10 year long-term planning list as part of the Unified Transportation Program.

About a mile down the road from Abens lives Elbert McDaniel. McDaniel is new to the area but has heard plenty of stories from his wife and mother-in-law about bad wrecks over the years. he has not seen a fatality yet, but he understands the dangers.

"This little strip right here is like the Indianapolis 500," McDaniel said. "Everyone drives fast through here."

McDaniel had to accept an offer from TxDOT on some of his property to make way for the project. He believes he is losing about 160 feet of green space that he has lined with pink and yellow roses. McDaniel said he thinks the loss of real estate is bearable knowing the safety aspect.

The renovations on the 12-mile stretch of highway is part of a bigger regional improvement to improve traffic flow through the Pineywoods. Drivers agree there needs to be some relief and safety upgrades. Gilbert McCarthy drives between Jasper and Lufkin multiple times a week to pick up supplies for his job. He has seen first hand the dangers involved on the two-lane highway.

"I actually saw someone  one morning fall asleep and go on my side of the road into the woods," McCarthy said. "I have to pay attention on the road."

McDaniel is holding out hope that the work coming will fix a major problem.

"It probably will stop it," McDaniel said. "It will be a lot better."

The following projects in the Lufkin region have all been put on the list:

Angelina County: A $65 million project on US 69 designed to widen the roadway from two lanes to a four lane divided highway from FM 844 to Zavalla and the construction of an overpass at SH 63. The project could be funded in summer 2018.

Angelina County: A $13.4 million project on US 69 designed to widen the roadway from two lanes to a four lane divided highway from SH 63 to FM 1270. The project could be funded in summer 2018

Angelina County: A $34.9 million project on US 69 designed to widen the roadway from two lanes to a four lane divided highway from FM 1270 to the Jasper County line. The project could be funded in fall 2018

Angelina County: A $142.1 million project on US 59 to construct the Diboll Relief Route that will include construction of a new four lane roadway that will meet interstate standards and be located east of Diboll from FM 2108 to 1.1 mile south of White Oak Creek. The project could be funded in fall 2019.

Angelina County: A $13.5 million project on US 59 designed to upgrade the roadway to interstate standards by constructing frontage roads from Old Moffett Road to SH 103. The project could be funded in summer 2020.

Angelina County: A $20.6 million project on US 59 designed to upgrade the roadway to interstate standards by constructing frontage roads from south of FM 2021 to north of US 59/SL 287. The project could be funded in winter 2022.

Nacogdoches County: A $75.5 million project on US 59 at SL 224 designed for the construction of two-way direct connectors and frontage roads along SL 224 that will meet interstate standards. The project could be funded in winter 2019.

Houston County: A $12.8 million project on SH 21 from the east end of the Trinity River Bridge to FM 1280 designed to reconstruct pavement and add passing lanes. The project could be funded in summer 2018.

Statewide, $2.5 Billion of projects have been put on the list.

To view the UTP, visit http://www.txdot.gov/government/programs/utp.html

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