Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

May 10, 2014

County excited about road program

Commissioners show support for widening U.S. 69

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

CHEROKEE COUNTY — While funds from a state program focusing on road repair may not fully address all of Cherokee County's need, county leaders are excited about the possibilities the program creates.

“The money will be just a small portion of what's needed to fix roads, but we're excited to get anything we can,” said Pct. 2 Commissioner Steven Norton on Friday, a day after the commissioners court met in a special session to adopt a resolution concerning a County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone.

These zones were created in 2007 by the state legislature, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, “as a value capture method for transportation projects, where … revenues are set aside to finance a project.”

Earlier this year, when the court created and adopted a CETRZ zone from five parcels of land on County Road 3110, which had been identified as severely damaged by traffic from overweight vehicles,

a certain amount of funds were identified for Cherokee County.

Since then, that amount has increased by about $64,000, said County Judge Chris Davis.

This, he said, will allow commissioners to do more roadwork in their precincts.

“It's money coming in from the state, money that we won't have to be pulling out of our budget,” he said. “Road repair, a sizable portion of the budget, and the cost of materials you have to buy (aren't at a fixed cost), so anything we get in helps rebuild our infrastructure. It's just a drop in the bucket, but it will certainly help.”

During a regular session convened Friday by the commissioners court, members showed support to the City of Wells, which has applied for a USDA community facilities grant.

The men said funds will be used in preparation of widening the two-lane portion of U.S. 69 running through town.

“It's one of the steps that will help them move forward on the project,” Norton said. “There'll be lots of preparation going into the project – they're looking at water mains, sewer lines and power lines that may be buried.”

Judge Davis described this particular portion of the highway – which eventually terminates in Lufkin – as a “bottleneck in our hurricane evacuation route.”

“It's a two lane through Wells, and that becomes a safety concern to citizens coming (inland) from the coastal area during an evacuation. It holds traffic up, and you can't have that,” he said. “One of the recent hurricanes – I don't remember if it was Katrina or Ike or Rita – it was terrible, because that was an area of road that needed to keep things moving.”

During Friday's meeting, commissioners also approved a budget amendment regarding an insurance check that reimbursed funds paid for the repair of a damaged patrol car, as well as approved laying utility lines in Pct. 2, approved consent agenda items and approved a monthly Sheriff's Department report, Davis said.