SH 334 causeway bridge widening plan moves forward
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–State Highway 334 Bridge Expansion Delegation members Scott Six and Scott Confer told chamber members Jan. 8 state officials agree that the bridge should be expanded.
The two-lane bridge connects Gun Barrel City with Seven Points.
The men, along with Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce president Jo Ann Hanstrom, recently met with State Senator Robert Nichols, who told them “the project is a go.”
The 334 bridge expansion has been added to the Unified Transportation Plan, Nichols told them.
Planning meetings between the Texas Department of Transportation’s Tyler District and Tarrant Regional Water District are set for the end of January.
Initial studies show the traffic count exceeds the bridge’s design capacity, but its structure is sound.
Early estimates put the price of the project at $26 million and the timeline for starting construction three to four years out.
“Senator Nichols told us that the preliminary work consisting of a $2 million environmental and engineering study on the bridge expansion should be finished by mid-2015,” Six said. “The Senator also met with TxDOT and said that they will coordinate with 35 other agencies in moving the project forward.”
A two-lane bridge is planned alongside the current bridge.
“It is a question of funding,” Confer explained. “The project is going to permitting now.”
A press release from the chamber the following day recounted the effort to lobby the state for the project’s importance.
Letters of support from the various cities on the north end of the lake, including fire and police departments, and from Henderson County offices were presented and the delegation spoke of the danger and the inconvenience of the current bridge situation.
Specifically, there are no shoulders and in times of accidents or other bridge damage, access from one city to the other is limited to a long trip around the north or south end of the lake. The added distance in times of bridge closure can be life-threatening for citizens on the west side in need of emergency medical treatment.
The group came away from the 2013 Austin meeting with a commitment from TxDOT to allocate $2 million to conduct the required environmental assessment and update the engineering.
In late fall of 2014, Nichols, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and a former state highway commissioner, was contacted for guidance on how to move forward to make sure the project was still on track.
“Even though we’re going to have two new state reps in a few days, and this is no longer a Legislative issue, we owe a great big thank you to State Reps. Lance Gooden and Jim Pitts for leading us through the process in the initial stages and for getting us the audience with TxDOT in Rep. Pitts office in 2013,” Hanstrom said.
In addition to Confer and Six, the committee of local residents moving this idea forward includes then chamber chamber board of directors chairman Marty Mullins, Gun Barrel City councilman Dennis Baade, and former mayor Paul Eaton, along with former Seven Points mayor and current Justice of the Peace Kevin Pollock.
Hanstrom stated the chamber will invite TxDOT Tyler District Engineer Dennis Cooley to speak at the July 9 camber luncheon to update the community on any progress.