Public gets a bird’s-eye view of I-10 project
The general public had a chance to receive information firsthand Tuesday night from Texas Department of Transportation officials on the Interstate 10 construction project.
The open house meeting was held at the Orange Public Library Auditorium with various maps placed about the room for the upcoming construction project from Adams Bayou to the Sabine River.
Jay Trahan, director of the Orange Economic Development Corporation, wrote in an e-mail, “The purpose of the project is to reconstruct IH-10 and to make frontage road improvements at State Highway 87 (16th Street) and Business 90 (Simmons Drive).”
Matthew Volkmann, an engineer with the TxDOT Beaumont district office, was available to answer questions from the public. He said the open house was designed to let everyone know what they were proposing to do.
“The roadway is aging and county judges voted I-10 as a regional priority,” he said.
Funding for the over $40 million project came from Proposition 12 to replace the roadway.
In Summer 2011, the Texas Legislature authorized TxDOT to go to contract on approximately $3 billion in general obligation bonds for highway improvements. Texas voters approved these Proposition 12 bonds, which are backed by the state’s general revenue not by fuel tax revenues, by a vote of 63 percent in November 2007.
Bridges, such as the Highway 87 overpass, will accommodate six lanes after the project.
The original estimate for the project was $75 million until some cost cuts were made such as leaving the structurally sound Adams Bayou and Sabine River overpasses alone. An additional $10 million to $12 million for bridge funding was found from TxDOT.
Volkmann added the turnout for the Orange open house was much better than the attendance for the Beaumont open house held last week.
From an economic point of view, Trahan said Tuesday’s night meeting was all about access and visibly moving the project forward.
He continued saying the freeway is zoned as an Interstate Development Corridor for commercial businesses from Adams Bayou to Simmons Drive.
Private development could occur once access is improved.
“TxDOT is best at executing a traffic flow plan. It’s key. There top goals are flow and safety. We’ll work together in the short term and in the long term,” he said.
Trahan estimates the project will take three years to complete – from Spring 2013 to Spring 2016- at no cost to the city.
He added current business owners are generally supportive of the project because it will improve access and visibility to their businesses.
“There’s still some available land out there for attracting businesses zoned for commercial use,” Trahan said. “Our hotel inventory there (on Interstate 10) is adequate. Restaurants and specialty retail is targeted.”
TxDOT estimates the traffic count on that portion of Interstate 10 is from 40,000 to 45,000 vehicles per day.
“It’s really incredible we were approved for funding in an economically difficult environment. Orange shows up on their (commercial developers) radar,” he said. “They look at three things: population, average household income and traffic counts.”