Residents, officials voice opinions about TxDOT’s US 380 bypass option in Collin County

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The recommended alignment released in early May for US 380 provides direction toward solving one of the most-congested roads in North Texas but very few people are happy about it.

Many residents who aligned themselves with one of the five earlier options are now on the same side—in opposition of the bypass route preferred by the Texas Department of Transportation. Even city and county officials are weighing in with alternatives, though the final decision rests with TxDOT, which controls the state roadway.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller said TxDOT’s alignment “makes no sense” and is “a horrible attempt to create regional mobility.”

TxDOT Public Information Officer Ryan LaFontaine said the agency wants to work with everyone to find the best solution to US 380. Doing nothing is still an option, he said.

But traffic congestion in fast-growing Collin County is only expected to get worse. An average of 46,200 daily vehicles are expected to travel US 380 by 2045 if nothing is done to the roadway, according to TxDOT. This compares to an average of 31,303 cars on US 380 in 2016, according to TxDOT.

Work on the roadway is not expected to begin for another six to 10 years. Construction is expected to take another 20 years.

History

Talk about ways to alleviate traffic congestion on US 380 began in April 2018, when TxDOT presented five proposed alignments for the roadway. Those were narrowed to two in October 2018. In March, residents learned about two new proposed bypass segments being considered for US 380 in Collin County.

On May 6, TxDOT recommended a bypass option. This recommended alignment is estimated to cost nearly $2.6 billion, according to documents. This alignment will impact or displace 74 businesses and 90 residential properties. Roughly 220 acres of planned future development and 655 acres of environmental, watershed and parkland will be impacted, according to TxDOT.

The bypass alignment is recommended because it offers the best east-west mobility in central Collin County, according to a TxDOT presentation.

City staff and residents said they are left with a lot of questions about TxDOT’s preferred bypass, including where the exact alignment will be located. TxDOT officials said details about the alignment will be determined during the environmental study.

Residents have been vocal from the beginning. According to TxDOT, more than 18,300 comments and surveys were submitted during comment periods after public meetings from spring 2018-May 2019. Officials say this is “far greater” than any previous outreach efforts in the Dallas region and possibly in the state.

“We work every single day talking to TxDOT,” Tucker Hill resident Kim Carmichael said. “… We want to make sure we’re staying on top of what’s going on.”

Effects on future development

The recommended alignment will affect future development in McKinney, although specifics are still unclear.

When City Council approved its 2040 comprehensive plan in October, city staff included alternative land-use scenarios dependent upon which US 380 route TxDOT selected. During this time, five alignment options were still being considered.

“From a staff standpoint, we are still waiting to see where [the US 380 alignment]is before we make a lot of drastic changes to our plans,” city Director of Engineering Gary Graham said. “There are obviously some projects we are being very careful [about]during the design phase … knowing that there could potentially be a bypass.”

When there is more clarity about the alignment and what will be done to improve congestion, staff will use a travel demand model and update the master plan, Graham said.

For growth north of US 380, Planning Manager Aaron Bloxham said the city will have conversations during predevelopment meetings to ensure people know about the potential bypass. He said land uses determined in the 2040 plan are unlikely to change at this time.

Council Member Scott Elliott said it is council’s role to help with damage control because the alignment affects a lot of people in McKinney.

Reaction to recommendation

Many residents who were previously in support of one of the five options have now joined together to oppose TxDOT’s recommended alignment.

Some said TxDOT’s alignment will negatively impact their neighborhoods, including Tucker Hill, Stonebridge Ranch, Walnut Grove and Heatherwood.

Janet Anders, a Walnut Grove resident and member of the group Fix 380 on 380, said she is telling people to contact officials about the alignment and let their voices be heard.

“We’re where we were in October of 2017 with a route that nobody’s happy with,” Anders said. “We’re just kind of waiting to see what’s next.”

The Stonebridge Ranch Homeowners Association also sent an email to residents stating the board of directors “unequivocally” opposes the option presented by TxDOT.

Others, such as McKinney resident Charis Young, said the bypass will relieve congestion on US 380 by allowing semi trucks and commuters to go around the city. Young, who owns All About You Texas Concierge Services, said she used to commute to Decatur and take the SH 288 loop around Denton.

“It probably cut 45 minutes off my drive time because trying to go through Denton and hitting every single light was just maddening. So I understand why a bypass works,” she said.

Next steps

TxDOT has a lot more to do before any dirt turns on improvements to US 380. The agency will conduct an environmental study and create design schematics will be done on all options TxDOT deems viable.

The environmental study will look at historic places, cemeteries and wetlands that might be affected by the alignment. The environmental study is expected to take two to four years to complete, LaFontaine said in an email.

The alignment presented May 6 may also slightly shift during the study, LaFontaine said.

Right of way acquisitions will take place during the environmental study, according to LaFontaine. He said the acquisitions and securing sources of funding will take three to five years to complete.

Once the environmental study is complete, a final design, construction plans and cost estimates will be determined.

“It’s not an option to do nothing,” Fuller said at a town hall meeting May 14. “We have to do something. We don’t have a choice.”

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Cassidy Ritter
Cassidy graduated from the University of Kansas in 2016 with a degree in Journalism and a double minor in business and global studies. She has worked as a reporter and editor for publications in Kansas, Colorado and Australia. She was hired as senior reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's Plano edition in August 2016. Less than a year later, she took the role of editor for the McKinney edition.
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