By Christin Coyne firstname.lastname@example.org
A number of people showed up Tuesday night to share their concerns about plans for the redirecting traffic off the Weatherford downtown square. WD photo/Christin Coyne
A group of Weatherford residents showed up to the Weatherford City Council meeting Tuesday evening to voice their concerns about a plans to move traffic off the Weatherford downtown square.
The city earlier this month announced that it received $11.5 million in state and local government funding for the northern bypass that expected to help the city move traffic off the downtown square.
Weatherford plans to work with impacted residents to develop a route for the southern downtown bypass.
More than a dozen people showed up to the meeting Tuesday.
Ben Whiteman, who lives in the 200 block of West Columbia Street, spoke to the city council on behalf of his neighbors who live south of Palo Pinto Street.
“Basically, we’re just here right now to get on the radar about our opposition to the plan that was there,” Whiteman said.
Whiteman expressed concern about putting a roundabout in the residential neighborhood as well as impacts on historical properties in the area.
“We hope that y’all look real hard when you are trying to make whatever plan you make to get the traffic off of Palo Pinto and down to South Main,” Whiteman said.
“The city would like you to know that the map that you have seen [with a southern route] is just a conceptual drawing that was in the general plan,” Mayor Craig Swancy told meeting attendees.
The city has received funding for the north bypass and that route was established in a thoroughfare plan, Swancy said.
“We will be meeting with those residents soon,” Swancy said. “There are many options for a southern route and we will work with the southwest historic neighborhoods to determine the best route.
“We anticipate meeting with residents in the next few months. We are developing a website devoted to the Heritage Square project and will launch it within a week. We’ll have current information and times available on that website.”
“My concern is why would you divert traffic into what is exclusively a residential neighborhood?” Lynn Main told the Weatherford Democrat.
Several people impacted by the northern bypass also spoke to the council.
“This road that you are going to run around is going to come through an older residential section and it doesn’t need to be there,” said Mary Jackson, who lives in the 300 block of Bridge Street. “It needs to be some place else. And the shopping around the courthouse is never coming back so if someone thinks that by diverting the traffic they are going to bring the shopping back to the square. The stores are all built away from town where cars can go to them and so that won’t be happening. So I wish you would reconsider the route that you have chosen.”
Deborah Cascino, whose law office is in the 100 block of North Alamo and was built in 1900, said she believes that a roundabout in the area would severely curtail her business and was concerned about the truck traffic.
“The intent is, for this to work, we will be routing all the truck traffic to the Ric Williamson Loop,” City Manager Sharon Hayes said. “So you will no longer have through trucks coming through. The only trucks that you will have are destination trucks.”
The city is seeking to obtain ownership and control of streets such as Palo Pinto Street, Fort Worth Highway, North Main Street, South Main Street, Santa Fe Drive and others from TxDOT through what it calls the “turn back program.”
The city is planning to reroute truck traffic once it converts state highways to city streets and the northern bypass would help move additional traffic off the square by routing it around the area, as well.
Director of Capital Transportation Projects Terry Hughes said that the city plans to have a series of meetings with neighborhood residents impacted by southern portion of the planned bypass to discuss potential routes.
Hughes said that he believes there is a solution.
“I’ve got some distinct ideas that should really, I think, this is just me, will be the answer to achieve not only a downtown that is viable but also protect the neighborhoods,” Hughes said.