Texas Department of Transportation officials told the Henderson Daily News on Friday that construction crews from contractor Longview Bridge and Road are scheduled to close Farm-to-Market Road 1798 first thing Monday morning.
Larry Krantz, Tyler-based TxDOT spokesman, said thus far work crews have been developing the abutments and new approaches on both ends, but have yet to build the actual structure.
Krantz said FM 1798 would be closed to all traffic on either side of U.S. Highway 259 between Henderson and Mount Enterprise, so crews can begin building the overpass structure across U.S. Highway 259.
“The work is scheduled to be completed by July 4,” he said. “But, in the meantime, traffic will be unable to access FM 1798 from U.S. Highway 259 […] marked detours will be in place.”
Krantz said traffic will be officially detoured from FM 1798 to FM 2496 near Laneville and just north of Mount Enterprise, turning south onto U.S. Highway 259 and then turning onto Texas Highway 315, before heading back toward FM 95 near Minden.
“The detour basically tells you how to get across,” he said. “Drivers will not be able to access 259 by FM 1798, and vice versa.”
Krantz said he is aware that this detour is going to be an inconvenience, but TxDOT has to detour within its own system of roads. What’s more, that part of Rusk County is sparsely populated.
“If this is a direction you drive frequently, this is going to be a massive inconvenience for you,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do about it because there’s just not a whole lot out there, as far as ways for us to detour traffic.”
But, Krantz added, local drivers will likely take their own detours using nearby county roads.
“Of course, we aren’t going to detour to county roads or any roads outside of our [TxDOT] network,” he said. “But residents living in those areas, who are more familiar with the county roads in the area, will likely find their own detour around this.”
Krantz said, while the expected completion date is not until 2014, the detour will only be in effect until the summertime.
“The detour is expected to be gone by July 4, thus returning traffic to nearly normal,” he said. “Crews will still be working on other parts of the project well into the fall.”
Krantz said the $5.5 million project was initiated in June 2011, and will be worth the hassle in the long run.
“The main issue is safety, this overpass makes that intersection considerably safer to both local drivers as well as those passing through,” he said. “It’s a short term nuisance that’s going to make things a lot safer and smoother for anyone driving north or south on U.S. Highway 259 or east and west along FM 1798.”
Also this week in Rusk County, Krantz said TxDOT maintenance crews are scheduled to continue base and pavement repairs on FM 782 northeast of Henderson between FM 1716 in Oak Hill, in addition to SH 149 near the Gregg County Line.
“Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic,” he added.