TxDOT offers updates at county planning meeting

An update from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) was given during Friday's meeting of the Nolan County Forward Planning Committee, held at the Sweetwater Country Club.The meeting was held in order for various community leaders to learn more and take proactive measures as the Cline Shale oil development makes its way to Sweetwater and the surrounding cities within the county.The two representatives from TxDOT first discussed different projects that are currently being undertaken. As always, safety is the utmost concern.The project on State Highway 70 has seen some initial construction take place, with full work beginning this summer. The recent work located in front of Sweetwater Middle School involved utility work.TxDOT understands that the construction will be an inconvenience, as the timeline on the project extends about two years. However, the weather elements, such as rain, could extend the timing of the project's completion.Prior to the work, strong public input was heard during a meeting on the project. Now, TxDOT plans on continually meeting with the mayor and other city officials periodically as the work progresses.Another project briefly discussed was the bridge work on U.S. Highway 84. It was noted that the construction will also widen the road slightly.But as the oil development makes its way to the area, roadways will definitely be impacted and will involve the work of TxDOT. But on the other end, their turnover rate will also be affected.The state department said that the increased traffic will lead to a faster deterioration of the roads. For instance, roads that serviced around 300 vehicles per day could see up to 3,000 vehicles daily.As a result, the life span of a road will dramatically see an impact. The same road that could see 3,000 vehicles a day would now only have a two-year life span, in contrast to roads that currently have a 20-year life. When asked how local residents could help, it was stated that good contact with political leaders and partnerships is vital, as the improvements will benefit everyone. Additionally, TxDOT stated that at this time, they have no plans for one-way frontage roads.This article is the second story in a four-part series detailing the April 2013 meeting of the Nolan County Forward Planning Committee and their efforts to learn about and prepare for the Cline Shale oil development.