The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has started and completed several transportation projects in southeast Texas including Hardin County this year.
In Polk County, there is a project underway to widen FM 356 from two to four lanes along with an addition of curbs and gutters. This began in November and is expected to be completed in about a year. The cost of that project is $7,653,712.
Another project began in November that included replacing a bridge and approaches on Hwy 35N at the tributary of Long King Creek. This Polk County project is expected to be completed in about six months and the estimated cost is $812, 182.78.
Various transportation projects were completed this year including the completion of a mill and inlay on SH 63 from the Angelina County line to .26 miles west of FM 2799 in Jasper.
A major completion for Hardin County was on Highway 69 between Kountze and Lumberton. A center turning lane was added and the lanes were widened. State Representative James White said he was very excited about that particular project being completed. “Based on our discussion with a lot of elected officials down there and other law enforcement, that was a source of a lot of accidents. I think we remember about two or three Christmases ago we had some young people who lost their lives in that general vicinity. We were very excited to finally see TxDOT get that project up and going and get it completed. ”
Representative White mentioned that in a few days he will be sitting down with TxDOT representatives that serve our area to talk about the letting schedule. According to TxDOT, before a project can be bid on by a business, TxDOT must let it, or make it available for bidding. Rep. White says he believes it is going to get better over the next two years for Hardin County and says he is excited about the transportation projects.
“Hardin is very special because it is in what we call a MPO, which is a Metropolitan Planning Organization, along with Jefferson and Orange counties. So by statute, because Hardin County is in a MPO along with Jefferson and Orange counties, they have more control over how their TxDOT transportation dollars are used. Eventually projects in Hardin, Jefferson, and Orange counties are voted on by the MPO and the MPO is made up of elected officials and citizens from those three counties,” said Rep. White.
Rep. White continued to talk about the growth of Hardin County saying that with growth comes challenges but he believes Hardin County can get over the challenges such as congestion. He brought up port expansion in Jefferson County and that it is very important to a lot of people who work in refineries and industry. The ability of producers to get their products out of refineries and manufacturing entities and into global markets is vital.
“I’m very excited about some of the things I’m hearing from the new administration coming in January about infrastructure. I’m getting prepared to have my list for this new administration. If they want to get after infrastructure especially in southeast Texas we have a lot of interstates, farm-to-market roads, and port expansion that need to get in line. So I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
The TxDOT web site has a project tracker that you can use to view current and future transportation projects by county, district, or highway.