There is a new plan now in the toll road proposed to connect Jefferson and Orange Counties. It would give drivers an alternative to taking the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge. A Vidor man says he would like to see the road be built, making for a valuable option to drivers heading between Jefferson and Orange Counties.
"I've been around this area 50 years. They've been talking about it, talking about it," said Tim Looney. "Hey, I'd like to see it happen."
Looney has lived in Vidor for years. He says talk of putting in another way to drive across the Neches river, connecting Jefferson and Orange County, has been nothing but talk for decades. Now, Looney's ears are perking up when he hears that a private company is picking up the torch, hoping to build a toll road while avoiding using any Government budget or tax dollars.
"If you haven't traveled it daily going back and forth to work, then you don't realize how bad it can be," said Looney.
A Vidor man wants to see the toll road constructed. He says if you drive I-10 you know there's a need for an alternate when crashes occur.— Leah Elyse Durain (@LeahDurain) April 7, 2016
Creative Development Services, a Beaumont company, is teaming up with a Dallas Company, Texas Turnpike Corporation, in proposing the toll road.
Duane Gordy with the Beaumont vendor says he plans to get the green light from government officials for a private company to build a toll road, then take the proposal to the Texas Department of Transportation before gathering feedback from the community. All of this has to be done before an official route is mapped out.
"They need to have community input," said Gordy. "If they can't make something that makes these people feel like it's a benefit to them, they're not going to get their money back out of it."
Some ideas include starting at Eastex and 105 in Beaumont. As for the Orange County side, drivers would be funneled back onto Interstate 10 somewhere between Vidor and F.M. 1132.
Eastex & 105 is a possible starting point for a toll road being proposed between Jefferson & Orange Counties. pic.twitter.com/iLTp8oTMma— Leah Elyse Durain (@LeahDurain) April 6, 2016
"We've got the growth coming on that we're now starting to see congestion like we've ever seen," said Gordy.
Looney says while someone in his community will find a reason to oppose the project, he wants to see the toll road take shape.
"If no tax payer is at risk of losing anything, I'm for it," said Looney. "You'll have a choice to use it or not."
The cost of the project will vary depending on the route. Gordy estimates between $100 million and $150 million. The toll is also still up in the air but potentially could run about $2 to $2.50 to go the entire stretch of toll road.
The Texas Turnpike Corporation has already gotten approval from Orange County Commissioners. Gordy says plans are to approach the City of Beaumont next.
There was push-back from the Big Thicket Association regarding a possible route through some wetlands but Gordy says he will work with the Association to find a route that will make everyone happy.