No doubt with many vacations in full swing, the last thing travelers want on their way to a summer paradise is to encounter backed-up traffic caused by road construction. However, somewhere down the road that is exactly what could happen.
East Texas has seen many changes in its landscape recently with major road construction projects. Several major projects have recently been completed, but there are always more in the planning and design phase that will upgrade and enhance the roadways.
One of those projects is US 59 at State Loop 224 in Nacogdoches. We are proud of how the additional lane width accommodates traffic in the area. Another are the US 84 bridges that cross the Sabine River and join Texas and Louisiana. Those twin bridges with additional lanes and shoulder widths now carry traffic to and from both states in a more efficient manner than the outdated two-lane bridge.
Other ongoing projects that we will be equally as proud of include the bridge replacement at LaNana Creek near Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches; guardrail replacements on SL 287 in Lufkin; the addition of main lanes and access roads on US 59 in Polk County; the widening of US 190 in San Jacinto County and SH 7 in Houston County; the ADA upgrades in the towns of Groveton and Coldspring; and the road resurfacing, sealcoating and many off-system bridge replacements throughout all nine counties of our district.
In addition, there are many more construction projects in the planning and development phase, and a few of them will change the looks of East Texas. These projects, once approved by the Texas Transportation Commission in Austin, will be a part of our daily lives as we travel throughout the area.
One such project now under development is US 59 between Lufkin and Nacogdoches. This project is designed to upgrade US 59 to interstate standards and help pave the way for the proposed Interstate 69.
As part of project development, TxDOT is hosting an Open House to hear your comments on July 27 from 4-7 pm at the Lufkin District offices, 1805 N. Timberland Drive in Lufkin.
The project includes the addition of frontage roads on US 59 from SL 287 in Lufkin to Redland. These frontage roads will provide controlled access to freeway sections and enhance safety and mobility along US 59.
Moving our state into the future with safe, efficient roadways is what we do at TxDOT. Your children and grandchildren will one day see a huge span of Interstate highway cut
through these pineywoods. Some of those projects will likely include the much talked about fly-overs in Nacogdoches and loops around Diboll and Corrigan.
Other major highways will also be upgraded including the widening from two to four lanes on US 69 between Huntington and Zavalla, the reconstruction of SH 21 to add passing lanes in Nacogdoches and the reconstruction of US 96 in San Augustine and Shelby counties.
We will never again see sites such as the two-lane wooden bridge that crossed the Angelina River a century ago, or roads without state-of-the-art guardrail to help protect us. The days of a ferry pushing freight down the Sabine or Angelina rivers through East Texas are a part of history because the future has evolved and transportation needs have changed.
TxDOT still builds roads in East Texas with the future in mind just as they did 100 years ago. Today, we build them with the newest designs and technology such as final surfacing that has water-shedding capabilities for enhanced safety and added features on shoulders and centerlines that will alert drivers if they leave their lane of travel.
So as you endure hours of driving to get to a vacation destination, take a few minutes to reflect on that roadway beneath you. Notice the changes for the better and picture the finished product as you move slowly through those construction delays. Step with us into the future and know that we have your safety in mind as we plan these projects. Drive safe and enjoy your summer trip to paradise, whether it’s across the country or just down the street to the park.
Rhonda Oaks is the Public Information Officer for the nine-county Lufkin District of the Texas Department of Transportation. A Lufkin native, she is a graduate of Hudson High School and Angelina College. She has a background in print journalism and worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and a freelance writer. She has received eight Associated Press awards. Her articles have been published in many publications over the past 25 years.