GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - If you’ve driven on Interstate 20 lately, you know how congested it’s become. Well, there are plans in the works to change all that. East Texas News spoke with Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, who was on a committee to study I-20’s issues and to help come up with solutions.
If you’re merging onto I-20 you’d better pay attention. There are a lot of big heavy vehicles mixed in with travelers. Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, along with many other county judges along the I20 corridor, was appointed to a committee to study the highway.
“I think that the highest fatality rate is in the Smith County, Gregg County area. So I think this is one of the reasons that the funding has been set aside for this,” Stoudt said.
Stoudt believes it’s partly because I-20 is straight and flat coming out of Dallas, but heading east there are many hills and curves. He says a big problem is the I-20-Highway 31 interchange.
“It’s been needing to be done for a number of years. We’ve had a number of fatalities right there at that intersection underneath I-20 with people coming underneath and trying to cross over onto I-20, so we’re really excited about it finally coming to fruition,” Stoudt said.
Stoudt says the interchange will be changed dramatically.
“It’s going to be a totally new cloverleaf where 31 and I-20 come together. The exit ramps and access ramps will be all changed and widened. Elevations will be changed,” Stoudt revealed.
Longview resident Christian Ziesemer drives I-20 on the weekends and he usually leaves early giving:
“Thirty minutes cushion just to make sure that we get there on time, and that helps,” Ziesemer said.
He thinks widening I-20 from four to six lanes will ease traffic.
“It will be helpful, yes. Mainly we travel with families you know. It might be beneficial for everybody that goes from east to west or either way,” Ziesemer said.
Stoudt says the Gregg County section of the interstate was built in 1959.
“It was built when cars were going 45 miles an hour. It was built when trucks were carrying half the weight that they are carrying now and about half the size they were. All that has changed. All those dynamics have changed to the point now where this roadway is becoming dated to the point that major construction is going to have to be done all the way up and down the I-20 corridor to continue to make it more safe, and more drivable, and less fatalities,” Stoudt added.
Stoudt says the project will cost about a hundred and fifty million dollars. Work will begin in 2023, but Stoudt says a completion date is difficult to predict because there are so many variables, like the weather.