The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is hosting a virtual public meeting, with an in-person open house option, to present and gather feedback on the proposed US-259 widening project. This project aims to improve safety, reduce congestion, facilitate hurricane evacuation, and enhance freight mobility along the US-259 roadway in Rusk County, Texas.
Project Overview and Goals
The US-259 roadway is an essential route for rural connectivity, accommodating around 13,000 vehicles per day. It serves as a hurricane evacuation route and a major freight corridor. However, due to a high number of crashes in the area, safety improvements are necessary. The goals of the project include:
- Improving safety along the US-259 roadway
- Reducing congestion for smoother traffic flow
- Facilitating efficient hurricane evacuation
- Enhancing freight mobility
Project Details and Schedule
The proposed improvements on US-259 will span approximately 6.77 miles, starting south of State Highway 204 and extending to the Rusk County line. The construction funding for this project, estimated at $27.9 million, has already been allocated in TxDOT’s 2020 unified transportation program. The anticipated construction start date is set for fall 2025.
The existing US-259 roadway consists of two 12-foot northbound lanes, two 12-foot southbound lanes, and varying outside shoulder widths. TxDOT’s proposed plan involves widening the roadway by approximately 20 feet. This widening will add a 16-foot two-way left-turn lane, separating the northbound and southbound travel lanes, as well as 10-foot outside shoulders. Additionally, a 12-foot acceleration lane will be added along US-259 for State Highway 204 northbound traffic to merge with northbound US-259 traffic.
Based on feedback from a previous virtual public meeting, additional improvements have been included in the project. These include reconfiguring the State Highway 204 intersection and adding right-turn lanes at FM 2664, FM 1087, and State Highway 204.
The project will require the purchase of additional right-of-way to accommodate the wider pavement. The average additional right-of-way width needed will be approximately 45 feet, resulting in an estimated total of 41.8 acres. TxDOT has made efforts to avoid and minimize impacts to residential displacements, utilities, churches, cemeteries, and other constraints in the project area.
Environmental Overview and Public Comment Process
Due to the ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, TxDOT is conducting this public meeting virtually. The same information that would be shared in person is covered in the pre-recorded presentation, which is available online.
TxDOT is actively seeking public feedback and comments on the proposed project. The public comment process allows individuals to raise concerns, suggest considerations, and provide input regarding any environmental issues or other factors. These comments will be carefully reviewed by the Lovekin District teams and used to refine the project’s design and guide future environmental studies.
The development of the engineering plans and environmental studies is expected to take approximately 12 months. Upon approval of the environmental studies, TxDOT will begin the right-of-way acquisition process. After completing the right-of-way acquisitions, utility adjustments may begin. Construction for the US-259 widening project is estimated to commence in early 2026.
How to Get Involved
To access more information about the project, including specific details and design plans, visit the TxDOT website and use the search feature in the upper right corner. Enter “US 259 widening” to find the project page. On the project page, scroll down to the “Get Involved” section and click on the “Virtual Public Meeting with In-Person Option – April 26, 2022” link. This link will direct you to the online meeting notice page.
On the online meeting notice page, you’ll find all the materials related to the meeting, including the project schematic and a recorded video presentation. To stay updated on the project’s progress, you can also subscribe to receive email updates by clicking on the “Subscribe to Updates” button on the project page.
Public Comment Submissions
TxDOT encourages individuals to provide their comments and concerns about the project. Comments can be submitted online by clicking on the email link provided on the online notice meeting page. Additionally, comments can also be submitted through recorded voicemail or by mailing physical copies.
It’s crucial to note that all comments must be received by Wednesday, May 11, 2022, to be included in the official virtual meeting summary report. TxDOT values public involvement and appreciates the input received during the environmental and project development process.
Your participation and engagement in the US-259 widening project are highly valued by TxDOT. By providing your comments and feedback, you contribute to the refinement of the project design and the establishment of right-of-way needs. Stay updated on the project’s progress by visiting the TxDOT website, accessing the project page, and subscribing to project updates. Together, we can enhance safety, connectivity, and mobility in Rusk County, Texas.
Thank you for your interest and input in shaping the future of the US-259 roadway.