- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
By CHARLES RICHARDS
Decades-long efforts to make Texas 24 a four-lane, divided highway all 47 miles from Paris to Interstate 30 moved closer Thursday with preliminary approval in Austin of an agreement by local governing bodies to pay for right-of-way and relocation of utilities along the last 10 miles of two-lane road.
Final approval is expected to come at the May meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission, says Delbert Horton, chairman of the Sulphur River Regional Mobility Authority (SuRRMA).
Upon the recommendation of chairman Phil Wilson, the commission gave the preliminary OK during its April meeting to a $4.5 million loan to SuRMMA, the City of Paris, Lamar County, Paris Economic Development Commission, City of Cooper, and Delta County.
At the commission’s next meeting, on May 31, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is expected to be given the go-ahead to widen Texas Highway 24 along the final two-lane stretch of Highway 24 from Cooper to the Hunt-Delta County line.
“Thanks to all who supported the Highway 24 project, and a special thanks to the individuals in our communities who had the vision and contributed to it for decades to make this into a reality,” Horton said Saturday in an e-mail.
The requirement that trucks had to travel on two-lane roads to get to Paris has long been viewed as a stumbling block to bring new industries here.
When the Highway 24 project is completed, Paris will become a city on a major new north-south route for truckers and other traffic.
Instead of fighting traffic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and going into Oklahoma on Interstate 35 or U.S. 75, truckers will be able to connect with the Indian Nation Turnpike via Highway 24.
And the cost of delivering goods to Paris will become cheaper.
The effort to connect Paris to the rest of the world via four-lane divided highways began 57 years ago with a stretch just over one mile in Commerce.
The widening of Highway 24 has come in small increments. It was was widened from Loop 286 in Paris south to the Sulphur River in 1997. In 2009, the highway was widened to four lanes all the way to Cooper.
After the two-lane segment from Cooper to the Delta-Hunt county line, Highway 24 is four-lane and divided to Commerce and on to I-30 about 5 miles east of Greenville.
Representing the City of Paris, Lamar County, Paris Economic Development Corporation, Delta County, the City of Cooper, and itself, SuRRMA applied recently for the loan from the State Infrastructure Bank.
The PEDC, Paris City Council and Lamar County Commissioners Court each agreed earlier this year to borrow $1.5 million each. Delta County and the City of Cooper are participating in a less degree.
SuRRMA intends to make payments due on the SIB loans with funds provided by the various government entities. Delta County is not participating in the SIB loans, but is expected to contribute cash for its portion of the costs.
Based upon departmental review and analysis of the application for the SIB loans, the transportation commission made the following findings on Thursday:
The commission concluded:
“Now, therefore, it is determined that the applicant for SIB financial assistance submitted by the RMA meets the requirements of the rules, and in accordance with those rules and applicable law, the commission grants preliminary approval of the application to borrow, in one or more loans, an aggregate not to exceed $4.5 million from the State Infrastructure Bank to finance the costs of right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation for the project, and directs the executive director to commence negotiations and other actions authorized and required by the rules.”
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