Durant played host to TEX-12 last week and the coalition met in The Donald W Reynolds Community Center & Library conference room to discuss possibilities for improving the Highway 69/75 corridor.
Transportation Excellence for the 21st Century (TEX-21) is a coalition that lobbies for transportation issues across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
TEX-21 is advocating to make highway 69/75 an Interstate highway in order to improved traffic conditions and economic growth in the area.
Among the speakers of the event were representatives of both Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
While TxDOT District Engineer Bill Hale pointed out the benefits of turning Highway 75 into an Interstate Highway, ODOT Executive Director Gary Evans expressed ODOT’s concerns of turning it into an Interstate Highway.
Evans did say Highway 69/75 was the busiest highway in the metroplex and that the amount of truck traffic on the highway is increasing by approximately two percent every year.
Evans said his concerns lie with the “red tape” that may prevent local projects on and near the highway should it be turned into an Interstate.
Interstates are federally funded and it would require different procedures to make improvements on a local level. Evans said he fears this may slow improvements and may even prevent some.
According to Keith Self from Collin County, Texas, the highway will be getting increased traffic with the opening of the Panama Canal expansion whether it gets Interstate status or not.
The expansion will allow for larger ships and easier access to ports on the Gulf of Texas. This will mean an increase in truck traffic going north from the gulf.
During the conference, several options to ease the burden of traffic and improve the highway were discussed by ODOT, TxDot and members of TEX-21.
While no certain conclusions were made on Wednesday, the message of the conference was clear. As Mayor Jerry Tomlinson and others said, “Better mobility creates a better economy.”
TEX-21, TxDOT and ODOT plan to continue working to improve the highway for better transportation in the Texoma area.