Business route district, Cloverleaf projects on city’s radar
Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Port Arthur City Council was asked to support two Texas Department of Transportation initiatives having to do with local roads Tuesday when representatives from the Greater Port Arthur Area Chamber of Commerce made a presentation.
The first, reinstating Business Route 96, would create a corridor leading straight to the city’s downtown area.
Ron Arceneaux, chairman of the Chamber’s transportation committee, said the central business route running from Gulfway Drive to Woodworth Boulevard, Procter Street and Houston Avenue was first created in the 1940s and 1950s by the Texas Highway Commission.
At some point, in the 1970s the designation was eliminated, Arceneuax said.
“We don’t know why, or exactly when this happened but nonetheless, it was eliminated,” Arceneaux said.
The Chamber has been in discussion with the Texas Department of Transportation, Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission and city manager Brian McDougal concerning the business route.
If created, the business district would allow cooperative projects between the city, Port Arthur’s Economic Development Corporation, the Port of Port Arthur and other interested stakeholders.
Establishment of the corridor would also position the city to be eligible for at least five TxDot funding categories including Urban Area Corridor, Statewide Connective Corridor, Transportation Enhancements, District Discretionary and Strategic Priority.
Arceneaux said the Transportation Committee had identified at least 20 major businesses, attractions, and city, county, state and federal offices that could benefit form improved access along the business route.
TxDot funding is not limited to street improvements only. Other projects include better pedestrian and bicycle access, improved lighting and illumination and beautification efforts.
City Council was also asked for their support in asking TxDot to redesign the Cloverleaf Exchange at U.S. 69 and Texas 73.
The 1950s era design was constructed in the early 1960s, but has since exceeded its design life and become a safety hazard.
In a two year period between 2010 and 2012, 129 vehicular crashes occurred at the interchange, making it’s the most dangerous in the Jefferson, Orange and Hardin County regional study.
Arceneaux said as the area continues to experience growth the problems will only escalate.
District 5 City Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis suggested a third project be added to the list — widening Ninth Avenue.
Arceneaux said the Ninth Avenue project was already on the Chamber’s radar as a transportation project that needs to be accomplished, but its chances of getting off the ground are better if it is submitted as a separate project.
The next step for the Cloverleaf and business route projects is to present a resolution to City Council urging TxDot to conduct a feasibility study on the projects.
City Attorney Val Tizeno said she anticipates the resolution to be on the Council’s next meeting agenda in two weeks.