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Residents split on Taylor expansion

20140820 MISSION Taylor-Road-expansion 0113 featureResidents on Taylor Street are split on a joint effort to expand the roadway to five lanes.

Dozens of residents showed up at a public forum at Romulo Martinez Elementary School to learn more about the project, which requires cooperation from the cities of Mission, McAllen and Palmhurst as well as Hidalgo County.

“I’ve been looking at Taylor Road for the last 30 years,” Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas said. “I never thought we could do this project because of the funding, but we finally got it put together, and I think we can make it happen.”

The project spans from Interstate 2/U.S. 83 to Mile 4. It would expand the narrow two-lane rural roadway into five lanes, two of which would be wider for shared use by vehicles and bicycles. Included in the plans are 5-foot sidewalks and drainage. Two houses are within 10 feet of the proposed roadway, which would mean they possible would have to be relocated–one house is south of Mile 4 on the east side of the road and the other is north of the highway also on the east side.

As proposed, the work would be done in three sections. The first section would begin at the highway and stretch to Business 83 for a mile. The second would extend to .3 miles south of Mile 2, for another 1.6 miles; the third would span to Mile 4, for another 2.3 miles.

The first section has $9 million in funding from the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization. Engineers estimate environmental clearance would take about a year and a half, obtaining the right-of ways would take another year and a half, and it would take another year to build the roadway.

Proponents of the project pointed to three schools on Taylor between the highway and Farm-to-Market 495. Traffic is congested in the mornings and afternoons when students are arriving and leaving campus.

John Milford, who lives next to the Sharyland High School entrance, said he and his family support the project because it’s going to happen one way or another. He recommended a raised median because they’ve seen several accidents in the area.

Meanwhile, Will Klement, who lives close to 3 Mile on Taylor, said all of the problems on Taylor could have been solved years ago with turn signals and turning lanes. But, he said, Taylor doesn’t need four lanes.

“Two lanes fixed up? Yes. Turning lanes? Yes. Drainage? Wouldn’t be a bad deal. Sidwalks? I haven’t seen anybody walk by my place in a long time,” Klement said.

William Milligan, Klement’s neighbor, agreed, said Glasscock, Stewart and Bryan all are in as bad of shape or worse than Taylor. Plus, he said there already are two five-lane roads within a half-mile of Taylor: Shary and Bentsen.

Milligan said some of the pecan and oak trees have been on the road since before he was born and dozens if not hundreds would be removed to make way for the project.

Others said a wider road means more traffic and more speeders.

“Have they considered, instead of the big ol’ lanes they have, can we do like a three lane and widen it with a center turn lane? You still could put in drainage and maybe some sidewalks,” suggested Adam Scoggins, who lives at the northern end of the proposed area.

Finally, a young college student asked for a show of hands on who supported and who opposed the project. Most of the residents in the first section supported the project, while most of the residents in the second and third sections indicated they were opposed to the construction.

A week after the meeting Garza said Mission officials hadn’t had a chance to meet with the other three entities involved in the project, but they’re considering shortening the construction to Mile 2.

“We heard about sidewalks, drainage, maybe lessening the lanes. All of these comments are going to be taken into consideration before moving forward,” Mission City Manager Martin Garza said at the end of the meeting.

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