Nash may be getting two of its major thoroughfares widened within the next six years.
The Texas Department of Transportation recently held a public information meeting in Nash regarding plans the department has for widening what amounts to nearly a three-mile stretch of U.S Highway 82 within the city, as well as slightly more than a half-mile portion of Kings Highway also within the city's limits.
During the 90-minute open house meeting, about 50 to 70 local residents viewed maps, photos and roadway layouts featuring three preliminary designed widening plans which TxDOT is proposing for both roads. Residents spent the session filling out and submitting comment cards focusing the department's reconstruction proposals.
Specifically, TxDOT is looking at both increasing traffic mobility and reducing traffic congestion for motorists by adding traffic lanes to both roadway sections.
For the three-mile stretch of U.S. 82, TxDOT plans to turn the roadway's current three-lane configuration (one eastbound, one westbound and one turning lane) into five lanes, adding both an additional east and west bound lane, according to documents provided at the meeting.
Besides adding the additional east and westbound lanes, the department is also looking at adding a both an east and west bicycle lane to both sides of U.S. 82, along with a sidewalk bordering the bicycle lanes' outer-most portions.
As for the half-mile of Kings Highway, which will be located just south of its intersection with Interstate 30, TxDOT is also looking at turning Farm to Market Road 989's four lanes (two lanes running south and two running north) into a five-lane roadway by adding a turn lane between the highway's two north and southbound lanes. Besides adding the turn lane, the department is also planning to add the same bicycle lane and sidewalk feature it's proposing for U.S. 82
Since both roadway projects will intersect in Nash, City Administrator Doug Bowers said some of the road work will also involve lane re-aligning to help ensure a safer vehicle turning configuration at the U.S. 82 and Kings Highway traffic-light regulated intersection.
As for financing both widening projects, Marcus E. Sandifer, public information officer for TxDOT's Atlanta, Texas, District Office, said the estimated $5.7 million needed for the Kings Highway project has basically been secured while the projected $34.5 million needed for U.S. 82 project is still pending since the highway is a federal highway and will require some federal contributions.
Sandifer added that funding for the purchase of right-of-way for both projects is 90 percent the state's responsibility with a 10 percent match being required from both city and county contributions. The cost for right-of-way purchase hasn't been figured yet.
Bowie County Judge James Carlow said the proposed improvements being offered for both these sections of U.S. 82 and Kings Highway will also serve greatly to improve traffic safety flow onto and off of Interstate 369 just to the east of both project sites.
"I've been involved in with getting access to I-69 and 369 for most of the years that I've been county judge," Carlow said, adding that former Texarkana Chamber of Commerce President "Swede" Lee first approached him about the benefits of having additional interstate traffic coming through the four states area more then 25 years ago.
Sandifer said TxDOT will select one of the three basic engineering designs for both projects some time next year. He added that there will be a final public meeting held regarding the final design for both projects, either during or shortly after 2020, with construction on both projects likely to take place around 2025
Paul Wong, a Texarkana area highway engineer for TxDOT, said once construction starts on both projects it might take at least two to three years to complete.