The state has committed to widening Harrison Road and is buying part of Gregg County Precinct 3 property to accommodate the added width.
The expansion of Harrison Road (FM 2206) in the county’s precinct 3 has been discussed for years, but the Gregg County Commissioners Court officially approved the sale of Gregg County-owned land to the state for the project. The county will receive $74,418 in exchange for the land, part of the current Gregg County Pct. 3 offices.
“There is a contract with TxDOT to widen Harrison Road, and ultimately that will go all the way from the Loop 1845 (which turns into Loop 281 in Longview) to Hwy. 42, so Gregg County has committed money to help with rights of way. The Pct. 3 property fronts on a curve the state wants to straighten, so they have purchased really all the front – it cuts off probably 50 to 100 feet, as a matter of fact, it cuts through the of part of our parking lot,” according to Commissioner Gary Boyd.
As part of the transition from parking lot to highway right-of-way, additional asphalt has been placed for a new parking area and handicapped-accessible parking spaces moved. A playground area has also been moved to accommodate the future expanded roadway.
“All of that is being driven in part by TxDOT’s purchase of that right-of-way,” Boyd said, noting the widening project will also require the removal of the trees along the front of the Pct. 3 building.
Although the action item had come before the commissioners before, Boyd said, they were lacking a few details that Monday’s agenda item included.
As part of the contract, the county “reserves all of the oil, gas, sulfur in and under the Property” but waives its rights to explore, develop, mine or drill for those minerals. The county will also retain the title of improvements made to the property, including a pavilion, pipe, wood and metal, exterior light and a flag pole. It will be the county’s responsibility to remove these improvements as needed.
“The traffic studies have already been done for the road – that’s really TxDOT’s ball of wax, not ours. I think as infrastructure roads continue to be enlarged in Gregg County, they envision that road being a greater connector road from 1845 Loop out to Hwy. 42. Otherwise, they’ve got to go all the way up to 80 and across or they got to go back to I-20 and down I-20, so I think TxDOT envisions that having a greater role for connectivity.
The court unanimously approved the sale of the property to the State of Texas by a vote of 4-0 – the Pct. 4 commissioner’s seat is vacant following John Mathis’ retirement Dec. 31, 2017.
Commissioners also approved annual dues for the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas and voted to submit grant applications to the Office of the Governor-Criminal Justice Division for the FY19 Victim’s Assistance Grant Program and the FY19 Violence Against Women Prosecution Project. The amount for both grants are to be determined.
Unanimously, the court approved a ground lease between the county and L. Martin Property for a 2.629 acre lot in the southwest corner of the East Texas Regional Airport for a base time of five years. The lot, which cannot be used for aeronautic purposes, will house a 12,000 square foot repair center to service emergency vehicles.
ETRA Airport Director Roy Miller told commissioners the deal has been two years in the making and will bring between 15 and 20 jobs to Gregg County.
The rental rate will be $13,742.31 per year, and L. Martin Property will sublease the facility to Siddons Martin Emergency Group. After the initial five years, the lease will be up for five additional five-year renewals for a total of 30 years.
The county also approved the renewal of professional engineer master service agreements with KSA and Hayes Engineering for the airport.
“He uses the engineers based on the experience of the project he has going on,” Gregg County Purchasing Agent Kelli Davis told the group.
Both contracts will be presented to the court again in 12 months.
Before adjourning, the court approved the retail sale of fireworks by a permit holder from Feb. 25 to midnight March 2 for Texas Independence Day March 2.