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Turnpike work to start in 2004
Extension to open in 2007; officials update residents on progress

The Dallas Morning News

Plans for the extension of the President George Bush Turnpike from State Highway 78 to Interstate 30 leave some of Garland's lakeshore residents resigned to a route they view as the lesser of two evils. Christopher Anderson, planning director of the North Texas Tollway Authority, and Sandy Wesch-Schulze of the consulting firm Carter Burgess gave a progress report Monday at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Mr. Anderson said plans call for construction to begin in summer 2004 and for the first segment of the extension to open in 2007.

Planners are writing a draft environmental impact statement for the Federal Highway Administration. They will hold public hearings after the federal agency reviews the plan and approves its release, probably this fall. The impact statement will help decision-makers evaluate three alternatives - a "no build" option; Alternative 1, commonly referred to as the green route; and Alternative 2, the blue route. The two routes often overlap, but they diverge in Sachse and crossing Lake Ray Hubbard.

"The routes are not mutually exclusive," Mr. Anderson said. "The final design may follow the green route in some places and the blue route in others." Ms. Wesch-Schulze said the numbering of the routes does not indicate a preference. The draft statement will not recommend an alternative.

Alternative 1 would come ashore in Garland near Forest Creek Drive, Alternative 2 near Scenic Circle at the northwest bend of Zion Road. City Council member Bob Schwarz, whose District 3 includes the lakeshore, said he favored Alternative 1. "It will have the least impact on the amount of right of way and the values of single-family dwellings and businesses and the most favorable impact on the community," he said. "Our Number 1 concern is minimum impact on single-family homes and businesses."

Lakeshore residents who formed Garland Residents Interested In Transportation had supported a route farther east, along Chaha Road or Dalrock Road in Rowlett. "We certainly would prefer the Dalrock or Chaha routes if they were available to us, because of less impact on the community," said John Ragland, a member of the group who lives on Zion Road. "Since the tollway authority said they are not viable, we would prefer the Forest Creek alternative." Jim Hodges, the group's president and a resident of Scenic Circle, said he agreed. Alternative 2 would displace or devalue more than 100 single-family homes in the Zion Road area, he said, while Alternative 1 would displace five houses and an apartment complex on Forest Creek Drive. "We've got 17 apartment complexes just on the north side of I-30, and that's about enough," Mr. Hodges said. "We could do without one."

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