Southern Route Moves Forward Following County Commissioners Vote
ELLIS COUNTY – In a vote by the Ellis County Commissioners Court that took a number of people by surprise the southern alignment for FM 1387 was chosen after months of hard work and conversation by a group of residents who said they will be the most affected by the alignment issue.
With 339 signatures in opposition to the southern alignment and only 18 in favor of, the northern alignment route was the preferred choice. Residents opposing the southern route are concerned about losing their property, flooding potential and disturbing wildlife habitats.
These same residents were hoping the commissioners and TxDot would change their mind on the south option plan and allow for the northern alignment to be approved.
But the commissioners decided in a 3-1 vote, with Ellis County Precinct 4 Commissioner Kyle Butler the lone vote for the northern alignment, to keep the original plan and let it be the southern alignment after all.
With this final vote, commissioners directed TxDot to proceed with building the southern alignment between Longbranch Road and FM 664.
One resident who ask not to be named said, “They adopted a previous alignment taking the road over three bodies of water, of which Commissioner Butler expressed several concerns about future flooding and other water issues for his constituents.”
Cost Was A Factor
It was noted however, one of the strongest oppositions against the north was the cost to the county. A presentation at Commissioners Court outlined the cost for the north at $620,000 and the south $350,000, a difference of $270,000.
“The county is responsible for 10% of the total cost to purchase right-of-way and to move utilities,” the resident said adding “There are 25 additional acres still needing to be acquired for the south but only 11 more acres necessary for the north.”
Currently, there are no sewer or gas lines on the north, and County Commissioner Precinct 1 Randy Stinson told the court the Rockett Water line will be moved at their expense.
“I had a conversation with Rockett Water today before I came,” Stinson told the court. “They have a water main on the south side, (they) said it shows one on the north side, but they don’t have one on the north – may be dead or whatever. They do not have a water main on the north side, this is what their officials are telling me.”
“But that cost won’t, even if it is to be moved, that cost won’t impact the county, because it’s in TXDOT’s easement. And they’re telling me that if they have to move that Rockett Water is going to have to pay for it. Well, whether that Rockett Water pays for it, or the county pays for it, that’s going to directly impact the citizens of Ellis County. Everyone who gets their water from Rockett Water is going to pay for that millions of dollars’ worth of moving that line and buying easement to get it out of TXDOT’s. So, that part of it, no, it is not going to impact us as the County but will definitely impact citizens in Ellis County.”
Stinson was one of three including Butler and Alberto Mares, Ellis County Director of Planning & Development who had been appointed several months ago to study the north/south alignment comparisons and report back at last week’s meeting.
“All utilities located in the TXDOT right of way are moved at the owner’s expense,” the resident said. “Naturally, there are no utilities on the southern option because it is virgin land. So, with just the right of way to be purchased on both options, many of resident’s were left wondering why it cost so much more for less than half of the land.”
Based on staff research, the extension of FM 1387 towards IH-35E has been in the works since the early 1990s. It first appeared in the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) Mobility Plan 2010, adopted in 1993, as part of a regional transportation plan.
On May 10, 2001, NCTCOG officially added FM 1387 to its Regional Thoroughfare Plan, Mobility 2025, by way of an amendment adopted by the Regional Transportation Council (RTC). At that time, the plan showed FM 1387 connecting to IH-35E through an approximate area now known as the southern alignment.
FM 1387 first appeared in the 2000 Midlothian Comprehensive Plan approved by the Midlothian City Council at that time, and the Ellis County Thoroughfare Plan, adopted by the Commissioners Court in February 2001. The goal of the extension was to provide an additional east-west connection through the County and extend it to IH-35E to provide better mobility for future county residents. Knowing the regional implications of this road extension, as mentioned above, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) first placed this extension on its Regional Thoroughfare Plan via an amendment by the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) on May 10, 2001.
Ellis County Judge Todd Little said in a statement after the final vote “The Southern Route has been in the Thoroughfare Plan for more than 20, and with some minor adjustments to minimize property damage to local citizens, it represents the path of least resistance when it comes to the taking of land by eminent domain; no family is required to relocate their home. Commissioners voted 3-1 for the Southern Alignment based on staff recommendation and safety and mobility concerns, with all new growth considerations ahead.”