North Near-Term Project will Begin Soon

Several Lufkin businesses have either shut down or relocated because of the South Near-Term Project along Highway 59 South. Now, the same is about to happen for the North Near-Term Project.

Steve Evans, TxDot Right of Way Administrator, said, "This project will have a direct connector from the loop to 59 North that'll take you to Nacogdoches, and in return, if you're coming from Nacogdoches you'll have an overpass to take you on to the east loop."

The state plans to buy several businesses in the area next fall to make room for the multi-million dollar project. The Expo Inn, Lone Star Charlie's Restaurant and about 30 other properties are on the list.

The Fifth Wheel Truck Stop has already been purchased. TxDot bought it back in January after it shut down. The truck stop was there for more than 20 years, but the diner behind it is still open.

The affected property owners have known for several years they would either have to relocate or shut down before the work could begin.

"There'll be frontage roads from 59 back to the Moffett Road - the road that goes to Kit McConnico Park," said Evans. "There'll be frontage roads out on the loop. This will alleviate a lot of the merging of the local traffic and the folks moving through Lufkin."

Construction on the North Near-Term Project should begin in late 2009 and like the South Near-Term Project along Highway 59 South, should only take about three years to finish.

The property acquisition for the North Near Term Project will cost between $6 and $8 million. Construction will cost an estimated $18 million.

Not everyone is excited about the state's planned highway improvements. The owner of Lone Star Charlie's Restaurant does not want to have to relocate or tear down his business. The popular diner has been there for more than 20 years and serves hundreds of hungry truckers and East Texas residents every day.

Wade Jabbour said, "I own it and my wife and my kids work with me and we've been doing that for 25 years. I wish they'd go somewhere else [and] leave me alone."

Jabbour said he does not have another location in mind for his restaurant if he has to relocate.