Naked City

Praying for 183

State transportation officials first unveiled a design to refurbish US 183 from RM 620 to State Highway 71 more than 18 years ago. Last Thursday at LBJ High School, they again presented an expansion plan for 183 -- this time a reworked version of the original -- hoping to complete a project that's already witnessed four American presidents, five Texas governors, and five World Cups.

Since the expansion was approved in 1985, the Texas Dept. of Transportation (TxDOT) has spent considerable time securing funding, snaring right-of-way land, and completing the project's first phase: rebuilding 183 between RM 620 and I-35. But in that time, traffic patterns along 183 have shifted so drastically due to the city's tremendous growth and the relocation of the airport to bigger, better Bergstrom, that TxDOT decided it needed a new design for the second segment of construction, from I-35 to SH 71. The hearing last week featured a presentation detailing all 29 alterations to that slice of 183, including recessing the highway where it passes under US 290. TxDOT also displayed grainy aerial photos shown at the first public hearing on May 1, 1984, documenting the area's comparatively vacant land back then.

Following the presentation, the public comment period lasted a surprisingly short 15 minutes, and consisted mostly of concerns about traffic near the airport and drainage at Cameron Road and Buttermilk Creek. Any additional written comments must be submitted to TxDOT before June 24 at P.O. Drawer 15426, 78761. Of course, the project won't be finished any time soon. TxDOT officials said they hope to have all construction at least started by 2005 -- just in time for the next World Cup.

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