Public hearing set on proposed TxDOT bypass

Relief route access focus of public hearingBy BILL McCLELLANManaging EditorDesign changes on a proposed truck relief route around Big Spring are the focus for a public hearing, set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Dora Roberts Community Center.Specifically, the changes would make the roadway an uncontrolled access highway rather than a controlled access highway.A controlled access highway allows entry and exit only at designated points along the roadway. Some local businesses considering relocation and farmers whose land will be divided by the four-lane, divided highway have complained that a controlled access highway would restrict business growth or land development or cause hardships when tending to cropland.The proposed change is an attempt to accommodate those needs, officials say.While focusing on access, the presentation will include information about the entire 14-mile route from U.S. Highway 87 and FM 700 north of Big Spring to the intersection of U.S. 87 and RM 33 south of the city.Plans call for the route to be built in phases. At the moment, only an interchange and the southern portion of the route from Interstate 20 to RM 33 are planned for construction next year.Other work would include bridges, intersection connections, drainage and landscaping. The planned roadway would reroute truck traffic from the current alignment of U.S. 87 through Big Spring, which would be re-designated as Business U.S. 87 after the project’s completion.Tuesday, the public is invited to view exhibits and maps of the proposed route from 5 p.m. until the meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Registration opens at 5:30 p.m.Texas Department of Transportation staff will be available to answer questions and take comments. The public will have an opportunity to comment orally or in writing at the end of the presentation. Comments will also be accepted for 10 days after the hearing. Schematics, the environmental assessment, tentative construction schedule and other information will be available for review and copying at the Big Spring Area Office at 1301 North SH 350 in Big Spring and the Abilene District Office at 4250 North Clack in Abilene. Those who are not able to attend the meeting may view the information and can submit comments prior to the hearing date and for 10 days afterward at either of the two locations. After all comments have been received, TxDOT will respond in writing.For more information, call 325-676-6817.