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The Observer has been following the county's progress towards constructing a controversial bridge over Lake Lavon that will connect Lucas to the eastern shore of the lake and will, if built, provide a route via an expanded Parker Road from Plano to the eastern Outer Loop.
As is also true with the entire Outer Loop project, county officials have no idea how to pay for the bridge - they assume it will have to be a toll road, probably constructed and operated by a private company in what's known as a Public Private Partnership (PPP). Meanwhile however, the county is speculating with $376,000 in bond and reserve funds to finance the engineering studies needed before the bridge and connecting roads can be built.
Opposition to the bridge is already being organized, with a group called "Save Lake Lavon" organizing homeowners and sailing enthusiasts who want to preserve the rural feel of the area. Also, the anti toll group TURF (Texans United for Reform and Freedom) have stated their opposition to the toll bridge in an email sent out last week.
All sides of the debate will have a chance to be heard this Wednesday, when the county and its engineering firm (HNTB) hold a public hearing in Wylie on the proposed "preferred right of way" (preferred route) for the bridge and connecting roads.
The County Toll Bridge Public Hearing is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, October 7 at 6:30 P.M. at the Wylie Municipal Building, 2000 Highway 78 North in Wylie.
The Dallas Morning News published an article by Ed Housewright yesterday on opposition to the toll bridge:
Residents protest proposed bridge over Lavon Lake
Monday, October 5, 2009
By ED HOUSEWRIGHT / The Dallas Morning News
Joe Simmons traded the congestion of Plano for the tranquility of Lavon Lake a year ago.
Joe Simmons worries that a proposed six-lane bridge across the southern end of Lavon Lake would destroy his serene lifestyle.
He moved his family to a home on 3 acres with a lake view. He drives down a secluded road to reach his hilltop property in eastern Collin County.
"I love it," Simmons said. "It's nice and quiet. The air is fresh, and there's lots of wildlife."
He fears that a proposed six-lane bridge across the southern end of Lavon Lake would destroy his serenity.
Simmons and many other lake residents plan to attend a public hearing Wednesday night in Wylie to protest the project. They say it's too expensive, isn't necessary to relieve congestion and would bring unwanted development to the lake.
"One of the plans comes right through my front yard," said Jerry Jones, who has lived on the lake for 21 years. "I'm going to fight it tooth and nail as long as I can."
County officials stress that the bridge isn't warranted now and may never be built. If it is, construction might not begin for 20 years or more, they say.
For now, officials want to select an alignment in case the county's growth necessitates a bridge. Several proposed routes will be presented at the hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Wylie Municipal Complex.
"I think everybody thinks we're going to come out next week and start construction," said County Commissioner Joe Jaynes, whose district includes the lake. "That's just not the case."
Not enough people
The portion of Collin County east of Lavon Lake is largely unincorporated. It doesn't have enough people to justify a major connector across the lake, said Commissioner Jerry Hoagland, who also represents part of the lake area.
Eventually, however, the county's population is expected to more than double to about 2 million people.
"Then it would likely be a viable project," Hoagland said.
The project would actually consist of two bridges. One would start on the lake's west side in Lucas and connect to the peninsula in the center. A second bridge would extend to the eastern shore near the town of Lavon.
Irma Batres has lived on the lake's east side for 12 years. She calls her modest home a "handyman's special," but she doesn't want to lose it to make room for the bridge.
"It's beautiful out here," Batres said. "It's a little piece of heaven. You can see hawks and cranes."
The homes around the lake vary greatly. A new brick house may sit next to a dilapidated frame one.
County Engineer Ruben Delgado said officials have no timetable to acquire right of way for the bridges and thoroughfare. Even if commissioners choose a preferred route after this week's hearing, no design work is planned in the foreseeable future, Delgado said.
"It could stay a line on the map forever," he said.
1. Explain what HNTB and Engineering have planned.
2. Explain that the bridge is on track to become toll.
3. Tell them they, probably unknowingly, voted for the $500K 'study money' in the 2007 Bond election.
4. Tell them that $367K of that money has already been spent. (NOW.. add the latest Collin County comment "It could stay a line on the map forever," Excuse me? What did he just say we bought for our $367K?)
5. First they feel betrayed, then they get ANGRY!
This flawed and senseless bridge plan defeats itself.
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