COMMERCE - After nearly two years of research and meetings, the Hunt County Transportation Planning Committee is ready for the next leg of their draft plan after presentations before the public.
Monday evening’s meeting at the A&M-Commerce Alumni Center marked the second of two gatherings which sought public feedback. During the month of February, the committee will present their draft plan at city council briefings before a vote is scheduled to adopt the plan by Hunt County Commissioners in March.
“This [project] is the foundation, like the foundation of your house. The better the foundation is, the better it is to do the add-ons and everything else,” said Hunt County Judge John Horn.
The Hunt County Transportation Plan provides specific and strategic direction for meeting the multi-modal transportation needs during the next two decades of a growing and diverse population for safe, efficient and affordable transportation.
A&M-Commerce President and Committee Co-Chair Dr. Jones said, “This will impact all of us in this room and all of our descendants.”
As part of the plan’s vision statement, by integrating the development of Hunt County’s transportation infrastructure with the regional transportation system for North Texas, the Transportation Plan supports economic development and improves quality of life not only for Hunt County, but for the North Central Texas Region.
“The battles we fight out here aren’t really Republican vs. Democrat, it’s rural vs. Urban,” Judge Horn added. “Hunt County is not going to dictate how the Metroplex grows. The Metroplex is going to dictate how we grow. So we have to be in a position to understand that growth, pass that growth on to our plan and see how we want to adapt. How we’re going to connect to Collin County. How we’re going to connect with Rockwall, how we’re going to connect with Kaufman County. All of these things are all integral parts of how this plan is going to work.”
Approximately two dozen civic leaders and community members comprise the Hunt County Transportation Committee. The group held its first meeting in February 2010, soon after the county was incorporated into the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), led by officials within the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
According to Judge Horn, “It’s been an evolution. From where we started two years ago with no plan, with getting the support of the public and getting the support of the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) to vote us into the MPO to give us the opportunities to work with their engineering staff... This plan has saved us hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars by being able to utilize the engineering department, the expertise that the Transportation Director Michael Morris and his staff at COG have been working on for years since the inception of the RTC in the region.”
One of the highlights of the plan is a proposal for an extension of FM 1570 from State Highway 66 to U.S. Highway 380, which will help to enhance the Walton Development Municipal Utility District just to the west.
Numerous bicycle lanes are also key components to the plan, as all areas of transportation have been taken into account.
Officials Monday stressed the need to generate funding through a variety of means, since that will be the single biggest hurdle in establishing these projects.
President Dan Jones stressed the need to have a vision about future transportation needs, without letting funding concerns muddy the waters.
“In any kind of plan like this we are constrained by funding,” Dr. Jones stated. “However, need that not be a deterrent to planning.”
You can learn more about the draft Hunt County Transportation Plan here.