Northern Collin County is a mixture of country roads, farmland, and new, half-built pre-planned communities. But change is coming. The Texas Demographic Center predicts that the population will pass 3.8 million by 2050.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) wants a major east-west artery in Northern Collin County. It would accommodate the growth everyone expects of Collin County, growth TxDOT expects will clog those country roads.
The answer is to expand and probably realign Highway 380, turning it into a major artery. The question of its exact alignment remains unanswered and contentious. Few Homeowners Associations are clamoring for a highway cutting through their neighborhoods.
However, on Monday, during a County Commissioners meeting, progress made a little progress. TxDOT asked Collin County commissioners to allow them to begin buying land in one segment of one possible alignment option. They hoped to beat out developers wanting to build residential communities there.
The Highway 380 alignment is a big question; the piece of land in discussion this week is by no means the whole sum of the picture. (In fact, the first public comment came from a Prosper resident, concerning a different part of the 380 bypass which could cut over a school in construction.)
But Monday’s discussion centered around a piece of proposed land in McKinney, not far from the county courthouse. It runs along Country Road 164 and Bloomdale Road.
Over the last year, the City of McKinney, Collin County, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) and TxDOT have all discussed this particular location as a potential place for the 380 bypass alignment.
TxDOT says it is the most feasible alignment because it has “significantly fewer impacts to adjacent property and a much lower estimated cost than along the existing US 380 roadway.”
In fact, the City of McKinney and NTMWD seem to agree. The proposal noted that the footprint had been determined “to the satisfaction of the staffs of the City of McKinney.” A big issue with the Bloomdale alignment was that NTMWD needs 95 feet for a water supply line to the City of McKinney. TxDOT’s proposal takes their need into account.
Still, TxDOT hasn’t committed to the Bloomdale corridor; it remains one of several options they are considering. But their presentation notes that there is no other alternative alignment for this segment of the 380 bypass, “other than along the existing US 380 alignment.”
The City of McKinney has gone on record opposing that proposal.
With some support secured for the Bloomdale corridor, TxDOT brought the proposal to the commissioners. TxDOT hoped they would approve it so they could start an environmental survey. More importantly, they are eager to begin buying land from some residential developments who would be willing to sell.
“It’s a good solution, and it requires no action from the county other than acknowledging what used to be a county road can be used for part of the construction,” said Clarence Daugherty, Collin County’s director of Engineering.
Some commissioners noted that TxDOT hadn’t yet chosen the Bloomdale corridor. Commissioner Fletcher asked if their approval would in any way “force the hand of TxDOT.” She was concerned they would still choose a more controversial route, namely, along the existing Highway 380.
“TxDOT is already on this path,” Daugherty told her. “Your action won’t force anything.”
He added that the final decision on the future Highway 380 bypass is still a year or two away. The commissioners only had to decide whether to grant TxDOT authority to purchase land in the Bloomdale corridor. Even then, it’s only “from willing sellers, not using eminent domain,” as Daugherty put it. If they don’t act now, future development in the region could ultimately make that corridor unfit for the project.
“Those that are not ready to sell don’t have to worry about us forcing them,” Judge Chris Hill surmised. “And none of this has anything to do with the Prosper segment?”
“Yes,” Daugherty replied.
The Commissioners Court of Collin County, Texas, voted in favor of TxDOT’s proposed alignment for a US 380 freeway along CR 164 and Bloomdale Road and request to purchase land.
They also requested TxDOT “design the proposed US 380 freeway alignment generally between future Ridge Road and Community Avenue to include a full or partial depression of freeway main lanes and sound barriers, where reasonable and feasible, to provide maximum physical, visual, and sound separation.”