Interstate 30 from Dallas into Northeast Texas is changing – and even more changes are coming. In the first of three installments, KETR’s Mark Haslett speaks with North Central Texas Council of Governments Transportation Director Michael Morris.
Haslett: Over the course of an impassioned few months this past summer and fall, the communities of Northeast Texas overwhelmingly rejected the proposed Northeast Gateway toll road. That project began life back in 2012 as the Blacklands Turnpike. But whatever the name, the proposed road from far northeast Dallas County to Greenville by way of Nevada and Caddo Mills was unpopular from the beginning. The North Central Texas Council of Governments conducted a study of the area’s transportation needs, and initially recommended in favor of the toll road, but strong opposition to the proposal caused the Council to walk back its recommendation. The toll road was not included in the long-range regional transportation plan that was approved last month. So, what now? With state government seemingly poised to make major investments in transportation, improvements to Interstate 30 seem imminent. Anyone who’s tried to go through Royse City recently knows that there’s already work in progress. Council of Governments Transportation Director Michael Morris says that I-30 is part, though not all, of the picture.
Morris: I think we’re prepared to re-look at Interstate 30 all the way out to Greenville. We have very antiquated geometric design on parts of Interstate 30. You have some really short ramps. You have some ramps in the wrong locations. You’ve got jughandles where you should have diamond ramps. You’ve got bridges that at are that wrong heights. You’ve got bridges over (the) interstate highway that are constraining the ability to widen the facility. So this first group looks at where do we have antiquated design and start going in and modernizing those interchanges.
Haslett: Jughandles are the type of curved on-and-off ramps that are common in rural areas. However, conventional wisdom in transportation design says they’re not the safest in high-traffic areas.
Morris: Again, if the volumes are low, it’s fine. But you’ve got parts of Hunt County and Rockwall County that are growing so fast, they need a more modern interchange.
Haslett: In addition to exit ramps, other concerns along Interstate 30 in Rockwall and Hunt Counties include frontage roads. Namely, the one-way versus the two-way model. We’ll discuss that topic and have more of our conversation with Michael Morris tomorrow during All Things Considered.