Midlothian City Council Drafts Letter in Support of 1387 Northern Alignment

Exhibit of proposed 1387 right of way

MIDLOTHIAN – The 1387 expansion issue has become quite controversial the last few months, the Midlothian City Council agreed Tuesday night to draft a letter to TxDOT in support of the northern alignment for the FM 1387 widening and realignment project.

This same thoroughfare change item will be on the agenda for the Midlothian P&Z meeting on October 18. In addition, it will also be on the Ellis County Commissioners Court agenda the same day.

Midlothian area resident Vickie Dillow has spearheaded the campaign to ensure the new road takes the northern versus the southern route. Late last week, she said Ellis County Commissioner Precinct 4 Kyle Butler is also in support of the northern route.

FM 1387 is a major thoroughfare in Ellis County between Midlothian, Ovilla and Waxahachie. It is expanding from two lanes to a four to six lane highway between Midlothian Pkwy and FM664 (Ovilla Rd). Currently the roadway runs through residential areas and is adjacent to an elementary school, a high school, and a middle school located less than half-a-mile off the road.

Dillow explained her concerns were “There is a developed rural section between Longbranch Road and FM 664 where two possible routes have been identified. Both meet requirements and are rated good in purpose and need to manage congestion, improve safety, and accommodate future traffic. However, there are numerous differences in the impact the two routes impose on the area.”

For those who are championing the northern route, which the Midlothian City Council agreed to draft the letter in support of, this option widens the existing route without disturbing current ecosystems. Plus, it still allows for entrances for small businesses, a church, and a school to remain on the main route.

“Additionally, there is ample road in place for expansion requiring only 11 acres of additional right of way with five homes having the highway adjacent to their backyard. This route will cost the taxpayers an estimated $5 million less. On a rating of good, neutral, or poor this route is neutral to improve east-west mobility, making it less attractive for big truck traffic in and around schools.”

According to those who are in favor of the northern route option, the southern route is more imposing and will affect more residents if chosen.

Dillow said the southern route requires 38 additional acres, which means placing the road in the backyards of as many as 39 homes.

“Two of these homes will have a highway slicing through the middle of their pasture and require the removal of a forest area that provides wind protection, a sound barrier, safety and privacy,” Dillow said.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting resident Tina King spoke and showed council the effect of the southern route, which would slice her family’s land in half.

“[This is] more than just a map on the road, this is showing how devastating this is to my family,” King said. “It would be cutting [my] property in half and will take all the trees.”

King showed council a photo of the swimming pool on her property that would be backed to the road if the southern route is chosen and indicated the many trees that would be removed. She also said the grazing rights for her animals would be lost and she would “have to walk across the freeway to get to her animals.”

Regarding the forest area now in place residents believe the hundreds of trees that provide homes for owls, quail, rabbits, cardinals, squirrels, and additional wildlife would be devastating if removed to these important animals in the area.

According to the TxDOT Project Manager, a drainage study will not be conducted until after the route is identified, which could mean the cost associated will be significant.

Through a series of meetings with TxDOT it has been communicated if the cities of Midlothian, Waxahachie, and Ellis County change their positions and endorse the northern alignment, there would be a good chance for the northern route to be chosen. With the decision made by the Midlothian City Council Tuesday to endorse the northern route, concerned residents are one step closer to the desired option.

The Midlothian City Council held a workshop earlier this month to discuss the northern and southern route options after staff said they had received many citizen comments regarding the proposed TxDOT FM 1387 widening and realignment project. During the workshop, Council heard from many of the Midlothian residents that would be affected by the southern realignment, and it was decided to propose the letter of support for the northern alignment of FM 1387 at Tuesday night’s meeting.