A Texas Department of Transportation engineer told commissioners in regular session Monday about an upcoming closure of the overpass where Interstate 10 meets Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.

The project should begin sometime in the summer and is estimated to finish after seven months. However, Michael Volkman said, the work could take up to two years. 

“This is something we knew was coming,” said County Judge Carl Thibodeaux. “We’ve known that every single overpass between the Neches River and Sabine River was going to be removed … By elevating I-10 it removes the clearance underneath the overpass. [The project will take] all the overpasses off of 10 and having 10 go over the road. It’s actually a better deal for MLK because it will enhance the economic development on that corner, but it’s going to be an inconvenience that’s got to occur. We just can’t do anything about it.”

Alternate routes for motorists will be service roads and turnarounds similar to the recent I-10/Farm Road 1136 renovation project.

Travelers may also choose to take different exits.

Commissioner Beamon Minton of Precinct 4, referring to the often tedious and frustrating roadwork in Vidor, remarked, “It’s ain’t fun, but it’s survivable.”

Future TxDot plans – Volkman said – include the closure of the 16th Street/I-10 overpass for reconstruction work.

Next week commissioners meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday, as the regular Monday session will be on the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. – also a designated county holiday.

Communication breakdown

Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley said miscommunications over FEMA property may cause commissioners to get calls.

“I got an unusual call from a resident living next door to where a travel-trailer was picked up in Bridge City,” he said. “The people who picked it up told the homeowner they could have the deck and the meter-loop and all that. Then somebody came out and picked them up and they thought some theft was going on … The best we can tell is that when FEMA drops off a travel-trailer, puts a meter-loop in and a deck; all that belongs to FEMA. If they sell that stuff to the homeowner all that stuff can stay. If they pick it up, all that stuff goes. That’s our understanding.”

ESD 4 re-appointments

Commissioners approved re-appointments of three Emergency Services District 4 commissioners with terms ending Dec. 31, 2011. They are Brad Armstrong, David Roberts and Ted Williams.


Also approved Monday was a one-year contract between the county and Five Star Correctional Services to provide inmate meals at the county jail. 

Sheriff Keith Merritt said the contract will save the county from previous expenditures and that no county employee will lose their job or benefits. 

Savings estimates are between $20,000 and $30,000, however, Merritt told The Record the exact amount is unknown until the program can be evaluated. 

Because Five Star provides services to other companies, it buys food at bulk rates, he said. 

And while that will save the county from previous purchase methods, he said, savings will not be consistent on a regular basis because the jail population varies from week to week.