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Ennis Daily News

Hwy.287 project on tap

TxDOT moves construction date up to 2009
After much debate and a lot of waiting, the city of Ennis has received good news regarding the 287 Bypass Project.
The Department of Transportation has moved up the date of the beginning of construction to the fall of 2009. City manager Steve Howerton announced TxDOT’s decision this week saying, “the city was pleased with the progress.”
The project has been a source of concern for the city, and TxDOT Area Engineer Bill Pierce said he is glad that the project is continuing to move along.
“We know this is a very important project for the city and we are glad that things can be moved forward,” he said. “Ellis County officials have related to us that this is the most important project the county faces right now and we agree that it is most certainly needed.”
Pierce explained the timeline of the project has been uncertain because portions of the decision-making process are not controlled by TxDOT.
“The process is very involved and deals with so many other agencies that even though we control the overall project, some of the decisions are out of our hands,” he said. “For example, the environmental assessment is very complex and we have to satisfy the concerns raised about every aspect of the project and how it will affect the environment. We may be able to handle that in one meeting or it may take some going back and forth to have all the concerns met. That type of issue is hard to control and sometimes causes delays.”
TxDOT hopes to have the environmental assessment completed so the issue of right of way for properties privately owned along the area of the proposed construction site can be handled and a public hearing held by the summer of 2009.
While the project may seem to be moving slowly, Pierce explained that the rate of funding for projects overall has slowed down and has affected projects statewide.
“Funding has slowed down overall, which affects how quickly the right of way issue of property is settled, but we have not had our consultants stop working on the Ennis project,” Pierce said. “We are still missing some funding to complete the project but we are actively searching for resources to handle that. We have about $15 million of the $26 million needed for completion but we plan to move aggressively on this issue and hopefully make up time as we find the remainder of the funding.”
The bypass project will run from the Ennis Airport at W. 287, past S. Hwy 34, to the area around Ensign Rd.
With more than 11,000 vehicles traveling that stretch of roadway per day, a large number of accidents have occurred, and city officials hope to alleviate the situation with the bypass construction.

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Posted by on Mar 24 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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