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An Open Letter to the Citizens of Ellis County


After years of anticipation, funding has finally been received for the four-laning of Highway 287 from Sardis to the Johnson County line. In action taken by the Texas Transportation Commission, funding was received for the Midlothian bypass and the west leg when the project was added to the Unified Transportation Program as a Category 12 Strategic Priority for Fiscal Year 2003. The east leg from Sardis to Midlothian is being funded through federal programs and the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

I was pleased to see a delegation from Ellis County at the announcement which was made at the Texas Transportation Commission meeting in Austin today. Among those in attendance were Midlothian Mayor David and Debbie Setzer, Maurice Osborn, David Miracle, Boyce Whatley, Randy Denton, Charlie Peyton, Stan and Paula Baucum, Gary Sewell, Ken Earhart, Ken Pritchett, Wilbur Stephenson, David Kuykendall, Buddy Reasoner, and Ellis County Commissioner Ron Brown.

Despite the tremendous population growth and road traffic that we have seen on Hwy 287, we would have been years from receiving funding because of the growth seen in areas such as Collin and Denton counties. However, the ingenuity and fortitude of Ellis County citizens allowed us to receive these strategic funds. This process has been no small feat, and I believe that many people are to be commended for the assistance they have provided in this regard.

  • A special thanks to Chairman David Laney and the members of the Texas Transportation Commission for their approval. TxDOT Executive Director Charles W. Heald, Dallas District Engineer Jay Nelson, and Bill Pierce and Scott Morrow of the Waxahachie Area Office have all been very cooperative in meeting with us on 287.

  • Michael Morris who coordinates the transportation issues for the North Central Texas Council of Governments met with an Ellis County delegation and has been very instrumental in recognizing the great need that we have. County Commissioner Ron Brown who serves as the Ellis County liaison on transportation issues has also been of tremendous help. Vic Suhm of the North Texas Commission was also an excellent resource on this issue.

  • Mayor David Setzer and the Midlothian City Council and the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce, as well as former city leaders and elected officials, have united to work so that we could see today's result.

  • A tremendous group of public citizens known as the Focus 287 Team have spent hundreds of hours in meetings, research, and strategy sessions to see that the goal was met. Headed by Maurice Osborn, other members include Terry Weaver, Vice-Chairman, Ken Lundburg, Charlie Peyton, David Miracle, Stuart Pryor, Buddy Reasoner, and Paula Baucum.

  • Reggie McElhannon of my staff has worked a great deal on this issue as well. He organized a letter-writing campaign of other state legislators. During the horrific accident earlier this year in which a truck hit four vehicles, three of the four vehicles and 10 of the 12 people injured, including the three fatalities, were from the Houston area. We saw some 15 legislators, including many from Houston, send letters supporting the 287 project. It is very unusual to see this type of response for an issue that many would perceive as local. To show that Highway 287 is a major state artery was a key component in our success.

In closing, we do have a long way to go before seeing this project completed. Before letting can begin, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation must be completed, as well as the design work. Construction will take several years and we are looking at a tentative completion date of 2006.

The key thing to remember is that this is the primary gate that we had to go through. Again, thanks so much for the many who have made this day possible. I know that there are many who were very involved in the early years of this project. To them, we offer our gratitude, but to our children and grandchildren, we can now offer them a safer route to travel in a growing and developing Ellis County.

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