Residents review plan, give input on FM 2493 widening project at Open House event

Smith County Commissioner Precinct 1 Jeff Warr (right) discusses the proposed plan to widen Farm-to-Market 2493 from FM 346 in Flint to Highway 69 in Bullard with Bullard City Manager Jay Abercrombie (left) and City of Bullard Utilities Director David Hortman (center).  PHOTO BY MICAH MCCARTNEY
Smith County Commissioner Precinct 1 Jeff Warr (right) discusses the proposed plan to widen Farm-to-Market 2493 from FM 346 in Flint to Highway 69 in Bullard with Bullard City Manager Jay Abercrombie (left) and City of Bullard Utilities Director David Hortman (center). PHOTO BY MICAH MCCARTNEY
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One major road in the city of Bullard is scheduled for a major overhaul throughout the next few years, which could allow more visitors and growth to come into the city.

Concerned residents gathered inside the Bullard High School Gymnasium for an Open House event Tuesday, March 7 to take a look at plans regarding the Texas Department of Transportation’s proposed plan to widen approximately nine miles of Farm-to-Market 2493, from FM 346 in Flint to Highway 69 in Bullard.

According to TXDOT, the purpose of the proposed project involving the widening of FM 2493 is to improve the mobility, safety, and operational efficiency of the roadway. The proposed project includes widening 9.168 miles of FM 2493 from two to four lanes with a flush media, also known as a continuous left turn lane, beginning at FM 346 in Flint to Highway 69 in Bullard, as well as an approximate one mile transition east of Highway 69, including the building of an overpass at the FM 2493/Highway 69 intersection.

“If you’re a local and you’ve ever driven down FM 2493 in the morning or afternoon, it’s always very congested,” said Shane Cunningham, TXDOT Tyler Area Engineer. “We started widening in Tyler back at Loop 323, and we’ve steadily been widening to four lanes coming south. This proposed project is a continuation of that plan to provide more mobility for people commuting back and forth from Tyler to Bullard.

In regards to improving safety on FM 2493, information provided by TXDOT shows a total of 16 vehicle crashes within the project limits, including Highway 69, from 2012 to 2014 with six of the accidents having possible injuries occurring in the urban and rural sections of the roadway.

The plan also is aimed at improving mobility, the population of the Tyler metropolitan area is predicted to increase by 18 percent by 2035, whereas the traffic on FM 2493 is predicted to increase by 33 percent.

TXDOT is also hoping to improve operational efficiency along the FM 2493 route, claiming that vehicles queuing at intersections reduce operational efficiency, while left turns from FM 2493 to intersecting roadways and driveways result in delays and inconvenience.

According to information presented by TXDOT at the Open House event, the section of FM 2493 running between FM 346 and FM 344 currently has an Average Daily Traffic of 7,000 cars, and is projected to have an ADT of 10,400 cars by 2035 and 11,800 cars by 2045.

TXDOT has also said that the section of FM 2493 running between FM 344 and Highway 69 has an ADT of 4,500 cars currently, and is estimated to have an ADT of 6,600 cars in 2035, as well as 7,300 cars in 2045.

Residents attending the meeting had an opportunity to view a map spread throughout the BHS gymnasium of the project and voice their concerns, such as inquiries on whether or not the four-way stop in Bullard at the intersection of FM 2493 and Main St. would one day change to a signal light stop.

Bullard Mayor Pam Frederick was also able to peruse at the TXDOT Open House meeting Tuesday, saying the proposed plan by TXDOT to widen FM 2493 would be a great way to manage traffic in and around the city.

“When you look at it, traffic is an issue around Bullard,” said Frederick. “People are coming this way and have been moving to Bullard for years. We know what the reasons are for that, and we are working to manage that growth. This proposed project is just another way that TXDOT is working hand-in-hand with the city of Bullard to figure out how to relieve traffic on one of our busiest roadways. Of course, not everyone is excited about big growth, but they have to realize that with big growth comes better services and better opportunity for consumer dollars to be invested in their community.”

Frederick also said while the project will bring improvements to the city streets of Bullard, it is the goal of the City of Bullard to protect the city’s small town atmosphere.

“It’s a project that is going to basically an opportunity to move within and around the city of Bullard with ease,” said Frederick. “It’s going to bring improvements such as a bike lane, and we’re looking at working with them on things like walking trails and lighting. We also have the opportunity to have some input as to how it looks as it passes through our city. Our focus is to protect that small town feel as we’re moving more car traffic through our town.”

According to Cunningham and TXDOT, the estimated cost for the FM 2493 widening project will be between $60-80 million with a three year estimated construction timeframe.

Public comments for the FM 2493 proposed widening project will be accepted by TXDOT until Tuesday, March 21. From there, TXDOT will review and address all comments submitted and continue working on the project’s Environmental Assessment.

The next and final public involvement opportunity will be the public hearing, to be scheduled once TXDOT has a draft Environmental Assessment ready. TXDOT currently expects the meeting to occur by the fall of 2017.

Pending the proposed project’s Environmental Clearance, right-of-way acquisitions and the development of construction plan will begin in 2018.

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