Mary Horn: Facts on work made clear

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The transportation improvement process, the way Denton County practices it, is not a “zero sum” game. Winners and losers are not “picked,” “bumped up” or otherwise prioritized. There are no “runners up.”That may be how other areas do it, but not Denton County.

A recent Denton Record-Chronicle editorial [Sunday, March 3] asked a question about “where’s the disconnect” on how roads are constructed. Two examples were given of what was seen as this great disconnect — FM2181 and U.S. Highway 380.

If you would allow, I would like to offer an update and facts on these two projects that may help in understanding the complexities and difficulties in seeing these two projects through to completion.

FM2181 from Interstate 35E in Corinth to just west of FM2499 is scheduled to be let for construction this May. The DRC editorial suggests that this project had been bumped for other projects and has been on the “to do” list for some time.

Every project that Denton County works on has its own separate funding and is not dependent on any other project to start or finish before being implemented. At no time has FM2181 been delayed for another project.

That to-do list is very real and included environmental clearance processes mandated by the federal and state governments to ensure that any impacts caused by the project would be properly mitigated.

That list also included acquiring several hundred parcels of land from individual property owners, all of which expect the government (county and state) to follow due process. It may not be fast, but it is the right thing to do.

Additionally, all state facilities allow franchise utilities within their right of way.

When a project is widened, the utilities have to be moved first. That takes time.

The utility providers impacted by FM2181 are Atmos Energy, Carrizo Gas, Charter Communications, city of Corinth, CenturyLink, Explorer Pipeline, Grande Communications, Lake Cities Municipal Utility Authority, Once Electric and the Upper Trinity Regional Water District.

This was no small task. Additionally, HOA and individual residential screening walls had to be moved. The construction cost for the east/west section of FM2181 is $23.6 million. Getting those funds together was no small feat to accomplish.

The north/south section of FM2181 from just west of FM2499 to Lillian Miller Parkway has been in development concurrent with the east/west section. The state just announced the last parcel of right of way was acquired on March 4. The same utilities plus others will be impacted by this widening, as well. The construction cost for this section is estimated at $28.4 million.

Those funds have not yet been secured. It will take the efforts of that same collaborative team to secure those funds.

The DRC editorial laments the “antiquated” condition of U.S. 380 and acknowledges that it knows that this “project is in the line-up as well.”

Here are the facts: U.S. 380 from the Wise County line to FM156 was let for construction in December 2011 to Jagoe Public for a construction cost of $26.3 million.

Notice to proceed was issued by TxDOT on Feb. 22, 2012, for a total of 588 working days. U.S. 380 from FM156 to I-35 was let for construction on July 10, 2012, to Texas Sterling for a construction cost of $39.3 million. This is a 36-month project and is anticipated to be completed early in 2016.

These projects were also the beneficiaries of the hard work and efforts of the collaborative team that has proven successful throughout all parts of the county.

Should you have any questions about these or any other projects, please let me know.

MARY HORN is the Denton County judge.


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