San Angelo Leaders Approve TxDOT I-27 Interstate Feasibility Study
The Ports to Plains Alliance proposed extending Interstate 27 to pass through San Angelo and TxDOT is ready to conduct a feasibility study. The interstate is planned to be a part of a system that will eventually connect roads between the borders of Canada and Mexico. On Tuesday, County Judge Steven Floyd brought a letter from San Angelo Mayor Dwain Morrison to commissioner’s court concerning the interstate.
Approving the document would illustrate the county’s support for the project and allow the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to conduct a feasibility study. Through this study, TxDOT would simply begin evaluating the San Angelo area and accessing its viability for the interstate and the funding the road would require. The potential project is estimated to cost hundreds of millions.
Floyd had the opportunity to sign the letter himself, officially giving TxDOT the county’s support of the study. However, Floyd wished to discuss the issue and make the decision with the court’s input.
“There’s a place for me to endorse [the document], basically as an individual, but it’s kind of hard for me to do that when I’m sitting as the county judge,” Floyd said. “So this is something that I would like for the court to consider if we’re going to take a position.”
According to Floyd, I-27 currently runs from Amarillo to Lubbock, but Ports to Plains’s idea is to extend the interstate south to Del Rio. There is currently some discussion about whether the road will run from Big Spring to Midland and what the route would be.
According to Floyd, the mayor stated that I-27 would make San Angelo roads safer by displacing traffic, especially truck traffic, from the city to the interstate.
Commissioner Rick Bacon was enthusiastic about the project. He believes the interstate would promote economic development in the area. Furthermore, he said an avenue extending from the northern end of the country to the southern end would be invaluable in transporting goods and services across the nation.
Commissioner Bill Ford, however, was less confident about the idea. Several proposed plans for I-27 suggest bypassing San Angelo to the east or west. And if the roadway runs west and rejoins U.S. 277's current roadway south of the city, the interstate may be placed directly through the Christoval area.
“I’m not in favor of any interstate coming through our town ever, but that’s just a personal opinion because it brings some things that I would not really care for,” Ford said. “I just haven’t seen any definitive plans that give me any kind of comfort of how it would pass through Christoval and then the river, etc. Everything I’ve seen has been kind of a hodgepodge of highways and stuff.”
Ford acknowledged the interstate would bring business, economic development, and traffic to the area, but also a lot of “bad things”. He used Abilene, Midland, and Odessa as examples of the environment an interstate highway like the proposed I-27 can create.
“I don’t want to see that kind of environment out here in west Texas, but I don’t think we have [a] choice,” Ford said. “I really want to see a better plan then they’ve shown me in the past, so maybe somebody’s gotten something I haven’t seen yet. I just want to make that comment that I’m for it, but there’s got to be a better plan than I’ve seen.”
Bacon, who has been to several Ports to Plains meetings, said the organization has been attempting to get individuals in the communities the interstate will affect involved. He also mentioned a meeting in Sterling City where the Sterling County Judge expressed many of the same concerns as Ford. However, Bacon said, there will be many public hearings held by Ports to Plains so the public can voice their opinions on the issue.
Floyd also pointed out that the purpose of the feasibility study is to address the concerns of the people and find the best options to build the interstate. A motion passed unanimously by the court authorized the feasibility study in the Tom Green County area.
Floyd said the task of preparing and building the interstate will take a minimum of 30 years and there will be a good amount of time to find the best solution to the public’s concerns.
“I won’t be here [by then], but I’m sure working hard to kind of keep [the Christoval] area like it is. I’d hate to see a big four lane [interstate] going right down the river,” Ford said. “I’m pro-business, but I’m not to the point where I sell out the communities’ souls.”
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