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story.lead_photo.caption The fire station on Richmond Road on Thursday, August 29, 2019, in Texarkana, Texas. Texarkana, Texas is planning to build a new fire station at McKnight Road and University Avenue at a cost of $1 million to be paid for with bonds. (Staff photo by Hunt Mercier) Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas — A new fire station and a bridge over Wagner Creek to connect portions of Gibson Lane are accounted for in the city's proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

If the City Council approves the budget Sept. 9, plans are to issue $7 million in bonds to pay for the two projects, $6 million for road construction and $1 million for the new station.

The fire station is to be built on land the city owns southwest of the intersection of McKnight Road and University Avenue. It will replace the current Station Three at 5706 Richmond Road.

The idea is to distance the station from Richmond Road traffic, which can lengthen Fire Department response times, and to plan ahead for the city's anticipated northwestward growth.

"The hardest crossing in the entire city is Richmond Road, to get across the interstate. So moving down and over, it sets us up for future growth, it gets us away from that traffic corridor.

"It extends some response times, but we think that where we're moving to is in more need. It's harder for us to get over there now, and the call volume is going to pull us into that area anyway, so it's a better place to be at strategically for call response," Fire Chief Eric Schlotter said.

The city plans to eventually replace two other older fire stations with new facilities in more strategic locations. Station One, or Central Fire Station, now at 524 W. Third St., will be farther north in downtown. And Station Four, now at 4315 Summerhill Road, will remain close to Summerhill, but north of Interstate 30. Those two projects must be undertaken simultaneously to avoid any gaps in fire service coverage and therfore are more difficult to finance.

Combining financing for the new station and the Gibson extension into a single bond issue will allow work to begin sooner.

"We felt like we had an opportunity to go ahead and get one of the three fire stations that the Council has talked about moving," City Manager Shirley Jaster said.

The bridge project, which will connect Gibson's dead ends on either side of Wagner Creek, looks forward to growth in the area and will enhance the new station's effectiveness, Jaster said. The work is expected to take more than a year to complete.

"The roadways and the number of roadways that we have out in this area will give the flexibility to go many different ways quickly," she said.

If the budget is approved, work on both projects will begin within the fiscal year.

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