TEXARKANA -- Buddy Williams, the Texas Department of Transportation's local district engineer, fielded questions from Texarkana Chamber of Commerce members during an online talk Friday.
Williams touched on a variety of ongoing and upcoming projects, including the widening of Interstate 30 and studies of how to improve North State Line Avenue.
The I-30 project remains scheduled to be completed in September 2024, he said.
"Everybody says, 'Goodness, why does it take that long?' And one of the reasons is because the way we do it in phases, so that we can keep two lanes open both ways," he said.
The project's schedule has all traffic moving to the current eastbound lanes in July 2022.
"We'll still have all the connectivity other than occasionally closing a ramp for construction," he said.
Improvements to State Line are still in the public input and engineering study stages.
"Our main goal is we've just got to figure out how to fix that pavement," Williams said. Other challenges include what to do about medians on the street.
"One of the key things is we're still not sure that the medians will even work with U-turns. This is so preliminary, we really haven't put the engineering to it yet to see if there's room to do all this," he said.
Williams emphasized that there will be continual opportunities for the public to weigh in on the State Line project.
"We'll do plans, and we'll still have our public involvement process that involves everybody. Everybody'll have a chance to look at it, to talk about it," he said.
Williams spoke about TxDOT's "End the Streak" initiative, which seeks to stop a continuous stretch of days with at least one fatality on Texas roads. The streak began Nov. 7, 2000.
"We've been close a few times, but we just can't seem to get it to zero. Over 75,000 people have died since then. That's 21 years. I've got a daughter that is a senior at Texas A&M this year. She's 21 years old, and it's essentially been her whole lifetime. And that helps me put it into perspective every time we talk about it," he said.
Awareness is key to ending the streak, Williams said.
"Let's try to get that word out to everybody. Let's talk to our Sunday school class. Let's talk to our PTA meetings. And you know, let's just get that word out that we need to find a way for everybody to put some effort into it. Think about it before you get behind that wheel. And let's do all we can to help in the street," he said.