May 25, 2018
The Board of Directors of the Seminole Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) came together in a regular meeting at City Hall last Tuesday to revisit the city’s strategic plan for the future. Of primary interest to the Board is a long-discussed issue of providing at least a partial bypass of the city of Seminole to alleviate a growing issue of traffic congestion in the city limits.
“I’d like to see a loop around Seminole,” President Board President Kevin Petty told the group. “We need to see if we can work with other people to get that done.”
There can be little question that a truck by-pass would be — in fact, has been, among Seminole residents’ top priorities. In a 2015 poll on the Seminole Sentinel website, 91.6 per cent of respondents answered the question, “Do you feel the City of Seminole, Gaines County and Texas Dept. of Transportation (TxDOT) officials need to revisit the current truck by-pass for the Seminole community,” in the affirmative.
It is a complex issues that would require a package that would include multiple agencies working in cooperation with the City of Seminole, including Gaines County government and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). It would likely involve the purchase of properties under Imminent Domain regulations, and the possible annexation of portions of land just outside the current city limits.
The prospect of building new roadways would also likely involve issues related to road construction over a network of pipelines that currently lace Seminole and central Gaines County.
While FM 1788 (Telephone Road) came up in the SEDC discussion as a possible link to a potential bypass, Seminole’s 11th Street, as well as SW Ave. G, have long been the primary focus of any efforts to alleviate traffic moving through Seminole. 11th street ties together two lesser arteries, the Frankel City Highway and the Denver City Highway, but more importantly, provides some relief for truck traffic between the Andrews and Hobbs Highways. The greatest amount of traffic, however, enters Seminole from its north side.
In February 2014, TxDOT and City of Seminole officials implemented the use of the current truck reliever route, which sees eastbound U.S. 62/180 traffic turning southbound onto U.S. 385 diverted southbound onto N.W./S.W. 11th St. from the US 62/180-N.W. 11th St. intersection. From that turning point, tractor-trucks travel south along 11th St. to the intersection of S.W. Ave. G, where trucks turn eastbound onto S.W. Ave. G and travel to the US 385 red-light intersection, where they turn southbound onto U.S. 385.
While presenting an inconvenience to some residents living on or near 11th Street, Implementation of the new route proved to play a valuable role in siphoning off truck traffic that had previously congested the downtown area by attempting a difficult right turn at Ave. A and Main Street.
Following a period of extensive growth in Gaines County, 2016 figures from TxDOT show that 12,362 vehicles will approach the North Main Street and Ave. A intersection on an average day, while an average 14,359 will approach the traffic light on South Main Street. Another 6,754 vehicles will approach the Main Street intersection from the east, and 12,111 from the west.
Also included on the TxDOT map of Seminole traffic patterns, 2,218 cars will enter/exit Seminole on Farm-to-Market 1788 (Telephone Road), 3,290 on Farm-to-Market Road 181 (Frankel City Hwy.), and 4,881 on State Highway 214 (Denver City Hwy).
Also briefly discussed during the SEDC session was the need for a plan for city-owned property east of Seminole that has been designated as the site of a proposed business park.