While the prospect of a toll road along the old railroad corridor west of Greenville seems to have been left by the wayside, there’s little question that transportation development in the immediate area is on the way.
The North Central Texas Regional Council of Governments Transportation Division isn’t publishing final recommendations until the end of 2014, but one-third of the way into its yearlong study of the Blacklands Corridor, some likely recommendations are becoming apparent.
The public meeting on March 20 in Greenville gave different messages for residents of western Hunt County, southeastern Collin County and northeastern Dallas County.
The early word from the study suggests that a toll highway from Garland to the proposed Collin County outer loop is likely. The outer loop could connect Interstate 30 with U.S. Hwy. 380 by a route running from the west side of Royse City to the west side of Josephine to the east side of Farmersville.
East of the loop, the toll highway would begin at the President George Bush Turnpike in Garland and cross the south side of the land bridge between Wylie and Lavon. From there, it would continue north of Nevada before intersecting the outer loop west of Josephine.
West of the loop, a non-toll highway could connect to Greenville along a route north of the NETEX right-of-way.
The biggest puzzle for planners is how to deal with the inevitable situation created by the twin barriers of Lavon Lake and Lake Ray Hubbard. Between those two reservoirs, only a small strip of land connects southern Collin County with the county’s southeastern corner. Texas Highway 78 is the one through route across the land bridge.
A central motivating factor for the Garland-Outer Loop toll road is the overburdened state of Texas Highway 78. The thoroughfare is already congested, despite already having been expanded to six lanes from Garland to Wylie, with the six-lane expansion planned to stretch to east of Lavon.
Planners estimate the flow of traffic over the land bridge to increase by about 200 percent over the next 20 years. That increase all but demands a road parallel to Hwy. 78 if the existing highway is to remain functional.
Highway 78 runs along the north side of the land bridge, close to Lavon Lake. Planners project that a new road could be built along the land bridge’s southern side, along or near Lake Ray Hubbard.