For some time now, Royse City has been hoping to include improvements to Hickory Hill as part of a planned interchange with Interstate 30 that is being funded by a combination of federal, state, county and city programs.

As of the consortium meeting in Rockwall held last Wednesday night, the city has removed the length of Hickory Hill to SH 66 as part of the program, opting to take on the project at the city level.

Royse City Mayor Jim Mellody pointed to delays at the federal level caused by environmental studies of the project as a whole as the main reason for the change. The interchange projects being discussed by the consortium are in the process of environmental studies that can take up to two years to complete.

“We don’t want to wait two or three years to get Hickory Hill built,” said Mellody. “Reality set in that the delays are going to be longer than we expected. We are going to have (FM) 548 and (SH) 66 bottlenecked if we don’t get Hickory Hill built sooner than that. We made the decision when it just took too long to get funding for it.”

According to City Manager Karen Philippi, the city is planning on building the stretch of Hickory Hill between I-30 and SH 66 as a four lane divided highway.

The city is in the process of selecting an engineering firm to handle the project. The decision as to which of the five firms contacted for the project was made on Monday, but the choice was not available at deadline.

Philippi reports that the road project is budgeted to cost between $3 and $3.8 million, which includes not only the extension to SH 66, but the city’s share of the interchange project as well.

“We received word from TxDOT two weeks ago that the consultant would be on board within 30 days, so work is starting on the interchange as we speak as well,” Philippi said.

Hickory Hill has been the subject of much concern for residents that live off the street, recently prompting the city council to apply a “chip and seal” surface to temporarily improve driving conditions.

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