(ROCKWALL, TX—June 22, 2016) As Rockwall continues to see steady growth and urbanization, some impactful yet necessary changes are in store for the county’s public transportation and road construction plans.
During a State of the County address today at the Rockwall Area Chamber of Commerce Partnership Luncheon inside the Rockwall County Courthouse, Rockwall County Judge David Sweet broke down information about the county by the numbers, while County Commissioner David Magness presented updates to county-wide transportation and road construction projects.
In the past, Rockwall County has utilized the services of STAR transit for public transportation. As a rural county, Rockwall was only required to pay 20 percent of the overall cost, but now as an urban county, Rockwall will be responsible for 50 percent. This shift will have a major impact on future public transportation plans.
Summarizing some of the accomplishments of the Rockwall Bond Program, Magness stated that the voting public passed Proposition 1 in 2014, which redirected funding from a state savings account into the state highway fund. Similarly, the passing of Proposition 7 dedicates a portion of sales tax to the state highway fund. The State Congestion Relief Program TxDOT, available only in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and DFW, allocated $1.3 billion statewide from the elimination of diversions from the state’s gas tax account.
In light of these propositions, highways all over the county and Interstate 30 will see some major improvements.
State Highway 205 will be widened from two-lane rural road to a four-lane urban road, with allowance for ultimately six lanes. The $200 million project has been split into two phases: the north project, from FM 549 to SH 78, and the south project, from US 80 to FM 549. Analysis for alternative routes such as John King Blvd is underway for the north project, while schematic is underway for the south project.
FM 3549 (North) and 549 (South) will be widened to a four-lane urban roadway. The estimated construction costs are $9,279,943 and $1,092,405 respectively. FM 740 South, FM 552, and SH 276 will be widened to four-lane divided urban roadways, with estimated construction costs of $12,967,453, $46 million, and $17,268,421 respectively. SH 66 will be rehabilitated, but will remain a two-lane road with widened shoulders and additional turn lanes. This project will cost $15,872,363. Ultimately, SH 66 will be widened to a divided four-lane urban roadway. The estimated construction cost is $95.7 million.
By the year 2022, I-30 will see improvements stretching from Bass Pro Shops all the way to Royse City High School. It will widen to six to eight main lanes depending on location, continuous 4-lane frontage roads will be constructed or reconstructed, and ramps and bridges will be reconstructed. This project will cost $667 million.
“It’s pretty easy to say this is the most important project since the interstate came in,” Magness said.
For the latest updates on these road projects, visit rockwallcountytexas.com/279/Road-Consortium.
According to Sweet’s presentation, Rockwall County has seen a population growth of 2,370, up 2.7 percent. The tax rate is currently 0.3959, the Rockwall County Operational Budget is $29,331,001, and the debt rate is 0.0978. Sweet pointed out that out of 254 total counties in the state of Texas, only 40 have lower tax rates than Rockwall.
Based on an average Rockwall County home value of $229,000, a resident pays $5,315.55 in taxes. 62 percent of that total ($3,297.60) goes to the school district, 21 percent ($1,111.34) goes to the City of Rockwall, and 17 percent ($906.61) goes to Rockwall County. 71.1 percent of revenue comes from property taxes.
Sweet announced some other changes coming to Rockwall County. There will be a new website and a new process for accessing open records, Public Safety will have an $8 million radio system, and the county will continue to plan for open spaces as construction and expansion continue.
Also during the luncheon, the Chamber recognized Rockwall for its four awards in branding, social media, and newsletter design won at the 2016 Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives Conference. The Chamber also welcomed its newest partners: Morrison Guitar Shop, Farmer’s Insurance—Richard Bush, Rockwall Gun Club, Big Hit Creative Group, and Home Instead Senior Care.
Story and photos by Blue Ribbon News reporter Julie Anne White.
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