SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - As the deadline to choose a route for the eastern side of Toll 49 draws closer, controversy continues to grow.
Resident, after resident, after resident stood at the front of the NET RMA board room, all with one message to relay.
“Please think of the green route."
The green route, also known as the new public route, was created by a group of Chapel Hill, New Chapel Hill, and Whitehouse residents; they call themselves the Keep Loop Off Lake coalition.
“This is a big decision for our community, and it needs to be made for all of the community, and it needs to make the least impact on homes,” coalition member Christina Allen says.
According to the group’s research, compared to the other six proposed routes for the segment six expansion, the green route “destroys the least houses possible, it saves tax payers dollars, the UT Health Science center, UT Tyler has lent their support to it, and it’s beneficial for Tyler development” Allen says.
Much of the meeting was spent focused on two main issues -- safety and money.
“Let’s make it safer, let’s make it shorter, let’s make it cheaper, so we can afford to make it safer for all,” East Texas radiology technician, Martha Poeschl says.
Poeschl says the injuries she sees from Toll 49 are always critical and avoidable.
“Wrecks are going to occur on every road, but if we could just keep them from being head on collisions, it would make it safer for all of those involved,” Poeschl says.
The coalition says the cost difference between the blue and orange routes compared to the green route is more than $70,000,000, money that they say could be used to make the rest of Toll 49 a little safer.
The ‘Keep Loop Off Lake’ coalition has gathered more than 400 signatures to protest the blue and orange routes.
The decision from the NET RMA board will be made by the end of this month.