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Question, answers for 380: TxDOT lays out plans for highway expansion

Doug and Linda Daffron had questions for Travis Owens from the Texas Department of Transportation.

“I was just curious about what you’re going to do,” Doug said.

The couple wanted to know what changes would be made to U.S. 380 where it touches their 5 acres of land in Cross Roads.

“This is us, Doug and Linda Daffron,” she said, pointing out their property on the schematic of the road project that lined several tables in the Navo Middle School cafeteria Tuesday evening.

The Daffrons were two of the more than 130 area residents, including elected officials, who attended a Tuesday evening meeting at Navo Middle School to the listen to Texas Department of Transportation officials tasked with widening U.S. 380 in the coming years and to offer their input.

The project is set to widen the 14.6 miles of U.S. 380 that run from the intersection of U.S. 380 and Loop 288 in the west to the line dividing Denton and Collin counties in the east, according to the presentation. Several cities will be affected by the construction: Denton, Cross Roads, Providence Village, Little Elm, Prosper and Frisco. The project currently bears a $178 million price tag.

Construction is currently projected to begin in 2021 and to be completed in 2024.

From Loop 288 to the intersection of U.S. 380 and U.S. 377, the roadway will be changed to include a raised median as well as left and right turn lanes, according to the materials provided by TxDOT.

The one member of the public who spoke at the meeting, Robert Stock, expressed concerns about the impact the raised median could have on his property, the Greenbelt Business Park in Denton.

He specifically mentioned the 18-wheeler trucks that come to his business from Denton, saying they will have to make U-turns at 377 and Loop 288 to access the property.

“We get treated like a mean stepchild out there at that end,” Stock said.

“We get nothing from Denton, and now it looks like with the state, where you’re building this with no access to our property, again, we’re being screwed over.”

From the intersection of the two highways east, the renovated U.S. 380 roadway would feature a six-lane divided highway that will include five intersections with grade separations.

The cross roads for those intersections are FM 720, Navo Road, FM 423, Teel Parkway and Legacy Parkway. Other intersections in the construction area will be widened but largely remain the same, Hartzel said.

“People are going to grow anyway, so it’s just going to make it much easier,” said Syvlia Phillips, a Cross Roads resident.

Phillips has an interest in the growth of the area both as a resident and as a businesswoman in commercial real estate. She thinks the projected changes to U.S. 380 will help increase safety and reduce commute times as well as cutting down on the pollution caused by cars idling after a wreck on the highway.

“It’s going to reduce the number of automobile accidents, and save everyone a lot of time. That will decrease the number of cars waiting for an accident to be cleared, Phillips said, which “will hold down the vehicle emissions in the environment.”

Paloma Creek resident David McClellan said he fears the measures TxDOT is planning won’t be enough. “That doesn’t address the traffic problem,” McClellan said of the grade separations. “They’ve still got people that can access, in the middle of this roadway, and it’s not going to speed up traffic any.”

Two bridges – across Little Elm Creek and Doe Branch – will be widened as part of the project.

There will also be a 5-foot-wide, at minimum, sidewalk along the majority of the 14.6-mile-long stretch of widened roadway. “I don’t think it’s big enough,” Cross Roads Town Council member David Meek said at the open house. “We have more traffic already than I think six lanes will handle. … The flyovers will be nice, though.”

John Dickerson and Ben McCastlin with Dickerson Development also attended the meeting. “All of the growth is spilling north, you know, north of 380, so I think they’ve got to improve the corridor to help the transportation needs,” Dickerson said.

“Frankly, this meeting and these plans may be five years too late,” Dickerson said. “Should have done this before with all the growth.” McCastlin added that traffic has “overgrown the roadways that are in place now.”

Public information supervisor Tony Hartzel said part of the plan to help alleviate traffic includes working on the network of roads to improve them, which would include other TxDOT-maintained roads such as U.S. 377 and the Farm-to-Market roads in the area.

One of those members of the public, Cortland McLeod, said he hopes movement on the roadway will mean movement on the 20 acres of commercial property he owns and wants to develop at the northwest corner of U.S. 380 and U.S. 377. He said the property is “probably the only commercial property between Denton and McKinney with no water and no utilities at all.”

“I think it will get us off of dead center,” McLeod said. McClellan, who signed up to speak during public comments but left during the 20-minute recess, expressed anger and frustration with the project.

“Two years ago we were at this meeting, and this thing was supposed to start in August of 2018, no notice or anything that they had postponed it for two years. Now at 2021 to ’24 – OK, it’s three years to ’21, and it’s three more years before they’re going to be completed with the project.”

Hartzel, when asked about the delay, said the project wasn’t funded yet after the public hearing in May 2016. “After that [meeting], we got more input,” Hartzel said.

He also said more grade separations – those at Navo, Legacy and Teel – were added to the project with the extended timeline. “We do expect to let this project in a couple of years,” Hartzel said. He added that TxDOT will be working on getting the necessary right of way areas acquired between approval and the start of construction.

The project is also fully funded, he said. Another Paloma Creek resident, Kathy Lawson, said she is pleased with the project. She also mentioned concern about the way the change in the traffic pattern at the Navo Road intersection could affect the student pedestrians who frequently use it.

“Between the middle school and the high school, students walk back and forth across that intersection a lot, and so making sure that those crosswalk areas … under that overpass are really safe.”

Cross Roads resident Doug Kitchen said he is “most concerned about is [FM] 1385.” “Every morning it backs up from Paloma Creek to 1385, and every afternoon it backs up from 423 to 1385,” he said. “And they’re not going over 1385, which would cure it.”

Hartzel said the intersections with grade separations were selected based on several factors and that TxDOT had to prioritize the intersections. “It’s just always a challenge to build enough,” he said. “In a high-growth area, it’s going to be a challenge to build something – you won’t be able to build a roadway that’s going to be completely congestion-free.”

Residents who want to express their opinions or concerns about the expansion project have until May 9 to mail a letter postmarked by that date to Travis Owens at the Texas Department of Transportation Dallas District Office, 4777 E. Highway 80, Mesquite, TX 75150. They can also email their comments to no later than May 9.

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