Public, planners talk Toll 49, sidewalks

Published on Thursday, 13 March 2014 23:18 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

An extension of Toll 49, construction of sidewalks in Tyler and improvements at Tyler State Park are among the proposed projects for the next four fiscal years in a draft of the Transportation Improvement Program.

During the Tyler Area Metropolitan Planning Organization 2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program public meeting, attendees had an opportunity to discuss projects that were proposed.

According to the Transportation Improvement Program draft, proposed projects under fiscal year 2015 include constructing sidewalks at seven Tyler locations and widening a portion of Farm-to-Market Road 2493; proposed projects under fiscal year 2016 include widening Farm-to-Market Road 2493 from Farm-to-Market Road 346 to south of Farm-to-Market Road 344 and improvements to roads, parking lots and campsite pullouts within Tyler State Park; and proposed projects under fiscal year 2017 include resurfacing Texas Highway 155 from Front Street to Fifth Street and resurfacing Texas Highway 64 from Farm-to-Market Road 724 East to Loop 323.

City of Tyler Planning Director Heather Nick said also proposed under fiscal year 2015 is constructing an additional segment of Toll 49 from Interstate 20 to north of Lindale, connecting to U.S. Highway 69.

The Transportation Improvement Program draft also includes various transit improvements, such as bus maintenance and new buses.

Jerry Cuar￳n, planner with the Tyler Area Metropolitan Organization, said he is excited about the sidewalks, which will provide more opportunity to walk around the city.

Michael Howell, senior planner with the city Planning Department, said, “For me, … to see the improvements to Toll 49 is a good thing. It’s good for the entire area.”

Ms. Nick said the purpose of the Transportation Improvement Program is to list transportation improvements that are scheduled for implementation in the next four fiscal years.

She said the Transportation Improvement Program is the short-range plan under the parent Metropolitan Transportation Plan, a long-range plan that was adopted in 2009 and carries through 2035. The Metropolitan Transportation Plan is updated every five years, Ms. Nick said, and any projects that are in the Transportation Improvement Program must be in the long-range plan as well.

It is required to update the Transportation Improvement Program every two years, but it is updated more often to accommodate funding changes or project changes, she added.

Ms. Nick said the Transportation Improvement Program guides the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation, as well as to local officials, as they budget for planning, design and construction of transportation and transit improvements.

A public comment period to receive input on the Transportation Improvement Program draft begins today and runs through March 24. Ms. Nick said the draft, including any changes, will be considered for adoption on March 27.

She said the Transportation Improvement Program could be amended after a draft is adopted.