‘Keep Loop Off Lake’ proposes new route option for Toll 49

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Published: Aug. 19, 2019 at 7:56 PM CDT
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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Some East Texans are joining forces to protect their homes and the ecosystem around them.

The concerned residents live and work near New Chapel Hill, just one of the areas where the next segment of Toll 49 is being considered.

“No orange and no blue,” said property owner Mary Lou Tyre.

It’s a popular sentiment at the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority meeting.

Signs that read, “no orange and blue routes" and "no toll road through our homes” sat in almost every corner of the board meeting.

“Keep Loop Off Lake has a mission and objectives to preserve Lake Tyler, to preserve homesteads, and to create a route that is accessible to UT Tyler and the UT Health Science Center,” said Keep Loop Off Lake Coalition member Brian Allen.

This community backlash comes after the NET RMA announced that the blue and orange routes for the planned Segment 6 of Toll 49 are still an option.

“It will come through my front door is what I was told, yes, I have 300 acres, and it will go right through my farm,” Tyre said.

There are six routes shown in different colors on the proposed map running through different parts of eastern Smith County.

The blue and orange routes run through the New Chapel Hill area.

“I’m surprised that the orange and blue routes are still on the map, but they are, and there is a growing consensus in Chapel Hill that they need to go away,” said New Chapel Hill Mayor Riley Hurst.

Keep Loop Off Lake has recently created a site that advocates for a new route called the green route.

It is a route the coalition group believes will save more than 30 homes compared with the blue or orange routes, and they say it will cost taxpayers less money because it’s shorter in distance. Organizers point out that it travels directly toward UT Health, significantly cutting down response time.

“If we could save $45 million, they could put that into safety features on that route,” Allen said.

NET RMA Segment 6 representative Elizabeth Smart says they are looking at the green route, or what they will call the public route, as a viable option.

Keep Loop Off Lake is holding a neighbors meeting at the We Hope Ranch on September 5th to further discuss a plan of action.

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