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Local News

April 12, 2012

Officials planning for overpass construction projects

ROYSE CITY — Officials already are discussing how to deal with school traffic and emergency response vehicles when work on three Interstate 30 overpass construction projects begins in the near future.

Construction issues were discussed on April 2 during a meeting called by County Commissioner David Magness. Participants included representatives of the Royse City Independent School District, emergency responders and city officials from Royse City and Fate.

Another pre-construction meeting will be held in May.

The Erby Campbell Boulevard interchange in Royse City is first on the construction list, followed by Farm to Market 3549 and FM 551.

According to officials, there is a possibility that all three projects will be under way simultaneously at some point.

Traffic flow is a key issue because service roads will be converted to one-way when construction starts.

Access from one side of the interstate to the other also will be affected because the FM 3549 and FM 551 overpasses will be taken down. The interstate will be built up and over Erby Campbell and the farm to market roads.

That’s a major concern for fire department officials because Royse City and Fate fire stations are located north of the interstate.

City Manager Bill Shipp of Royse City said Royse City and Fate fire department officials are working on mutual aid agreements involving response to fires and other emergencies south of the interstate.

Shipp and Magness added that emergency median “cut-throughs” are planned at locations on the interstate for emergency vehicles only.

Fate Mayor Bill Broderick said one cut-through — which he called “emergency turn-arounds” — will be located between FM 551 and FM 3549 and the other will be located between FM 551 and Erby Campbell Boulevard.

The Erby Campbell overpass project could begin as early as June or July or as late as September, according to discussion. Magness said initial work will include utility relocation and right of way acquisition.

When construction begins, Shipp said, plans call for the south service road to be one-way eastward from Circle Drive west of OMi Crane Systems Inc., to FM 548. The north service road would be one-way from FM 548 westward to East Fate Main Place, an entrance to the Spring Meadow subdivision in Fate.

Superintendent Randy Hancock told Royse City school trustees on April 2 that two schools — Herndon Intermediate School on Blackland Road and Scott Elementary School on Erby Campbell Boulevard — will be “drastically impacted” by the one-way service roads.

The biggest concern is that FM 551 will be torn down before the Erby Campbell project is finished. That would mean an even longer stretch of one-way service roads.

“There will be a period of months where there will be no way to get across the highway right there (at FM 551),” Hancock said. “The other part of that is shortly thereafter, they will tear out 3549, from what we understand. So there is a slight possibility that all three overpasses will be under construction simultaneously.

“Think through the traffic nightmare that could create,” Hancock told school trustees. “For us, we could be forced to drive all the way to Rockwall from here to loop around and come back to Herndon.”

A “whole new” issue arises, Hancock said, if the Erby Campbell project starts the first week of school.

“I begged, borrowed and pleaded to try to express to them that is a disastrous time to make a change in the traffic direction,” Hancock said. “Hopefully, they will be able to do it earlier, well before school starts, or just go ahead and wait until we’ve been in school two or three weeks.

“So, irregardless, no matter how smooth we think it goes, it’s still going to be a mess and there’s no nice way to say it. But it’s progress. It will be fantastic when it’s all finished.”

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