On Apr. 23 in Greenville, public and private leaders from around the region gathered together so as to build momentum for planning for Interstate 30’s future.
U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall and State Sen. Bob Deuell were among those in attendance for a meeting of the I-30 Task Force, organized by Tex-21, a group devoted to planning for the state’s future transportation needs. Chris Brown of the Ark-Texas Council of Governments hosted the event.
Brown says the group came together to make sure that I-30 doesn’t get left out of the picture in the Texas Department of Transportation’s plans.
At yesterday’s meeting, the group passed a resolution that was included in a letter to the Texas Transportation Commission. It called for a study to be done along the entirety of Interstate 30 in Texas. The resolution recommended some specific improvements, including an expansion of the highway to three lanes in both directions, continuous service roads along the interstate and other safety improvements.
The population boom in Texas is well documented. The state’s population has tripled since 1960 and the current rate of growth is putting stress on the state’s health, education and transportation systems. But as far as Interstate 30 goes, there’s another reason for concern that comes from what might seem like an unlikely source.
Global trade through the Panama Canal is expected to make a big impact in Texas. A new canal is being built in Panama parallel to the old one. Bob McFarland of the Franklin County Industrial Foundation went on a recent fact-finding trip to Panama.
McFarland said that when the new canal is completed, expect a dramatic increase of freight liners from Asia, packed with shipping containers, coming into Texas ports. The flood of goods will then be loaded onto the state’s rail and interstate highway systems. In Northeast Texas, community and business leaders want Interstate 30 to be ready before the increase in truck traffic makes the highway too crowded or dangerous.