Special to the Review
The Athens Review
Two Texas Department of Transportation construction projects and under way and two more are in the offing for Henderson County in 2013.
The marquee project is the $6.4 million passing-lane project on State Highway 19 south of Athens. Contractor APAC-Texas, Inc., of Dallas broke ground on the project in November and is scheduled to have the project completed by fall of 2014.
“As fast as we’re growing across East Texas, we’re outgrowing our highway infrastructure,” said TxDOT spokesman Larry Krantz. “State Highway 19, a two-lane highway with limited passing opportunities, is a good example of that. Fifty years ago, even 25 years ago, that was adequate. Moving forward, it won’t be.”
The project calls for adding passing lanes in various locations between the Coon Creek Bridge and the Anderson County Line. The project was built inside the existing footprint, meaning no new rights-of-way needed to be purchased to make the project happen.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” Krantz said. “We get to add some badly needed passing opportunities, and we get to do it for pennies on the dollar compared to unilaterally adding additional lanes.”
The other project under way in Henderson County calls for adding shoulders to U.S. Highway 175 near LaRue and on Farm-to-Market Road 773 near Murchison. Crews will also be applying a seal coat to FM 773 once shoulders have been added. Contrctor A.L. Helmcamp, of Buffalo, broke ground on the approximate $3.7 million project in December 2011 and is scheduled to complete work this coming fall.
In February, an estimated $1.7 million project lets to contract to add shoulders to SH 274 between FM 3225 in Tool and SH 31 in Trinidad. Work should begin in the late spring or summer.
Then in April, TxDOT plans to let an estimated $5 million project to repair and resurface SH 31 between FM 773 in Murchison and FM 1803 toward Brownsboro, then continue with the westbound lanes only between FM 1803 and FM 314 in Brownsboro. Work should begin on that contract in the summer.
Speaking of summer, TxDOT’s annual preventative maintenance program known as “District Wide Seal Coat” is scheduled to apply a seal coat to US 175 from the Kaufman County Line to FM 804 east of Athens. That work will likely begin in mid-May or early June.