I would refer to the proposed route for the new Highway 69 loop as a town killer. I believe there are viable alternatives that would achieve the stated goals without choking existing and potential business for our town. It is inevitable when considering a project of this type, that it will negatively impact someone. What should not and must not be considered is an option that would have a negative economic impact on almost everyone.
Loop 456 currently connects highways 69 and 79. If this were to be properly completed around to Highway 175, it would allow a clean hurricane route north. It would provide downtown traffic relief from Highway 175 and 135. This route could also be designated as a truck route similar to what exists in Rusk. One of the benefits to our town is that the portion of the loop that already exists has driveway access, so there is the potential for commercial development associated with the increased traffic flow at least on that portion of the route. The existing portion of Loop 456 should also have adequate easement to be expanded to four lanes if needed.
If a hurricane and truck route would need to be considered for Highway 79 from Palestine that traffic could be routed onto Bolton Street. Much of that street already has an industrial footprint, so it could be properly developed to handle the dedicated traffic. This would relieve some pressure from the current Highway 69 corridor and the increased traffic could be beneficial to existing and potential businesses.
Additionally, improved traffic flow through town could be achieved by expanding the existing railroad overpass to eliminate as many as three lights through town in very short order.
When people are traveling, out of sight is out of mind. The proposed loop would result in somewhere very close to 100 percent of the people traveling Highway 69 to choose somewhere else to stop, shop and stay. If reasonable alternatives can be found that would not have such a dramatic economic affect on our town, it would leave me to wonder if the decision was being made with different, ulterior or malevolent intent.