Lucas City Council Rescinds Support of Regional Transportation Plan

Lucas City Council Rescinds Support of Regional Transportation Plan

In a stunning move, the Lucas City Council on June 7, 2018 unanimously rescinded its support of a Collin County Strategic Roadway Plan (CCSRP) following a lengthy discussion about resident’s concerns that the city of Lucas would unfairly bear the brunt of significantly increased traffic by motorists from neighboring communities.

In September 2017 the Lucas City Council adopted a resolution (Resolution R 2017-09-00466) supporting a proposed transportation plan that would have created a limited access roadway with the north-south corridor generally aligned with FM 546 and/or FM 982.  A key aspect of that proposed plan included the construction of a bridge across Lake Lavon that would permit motorists to directly tie into a planned Collin County outer loop freeway. However, when the city of Wylie objected to the construction of the span and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers raised concerns about how the water quality of Lake Lavon might be affected, the bridge idea was removed. Instead, new six-lane arterial roads in, and bordering, Lucas would take its place.

Council member Debbie Fisher spearheaded the move to rescind Lucas’ support of the current CCSRP citing objections she has received from many Lucas residents as well as the significant increase in costs that are now taking place to pay for emergency services connected to soaring traffic into Lucas from other towns in the region. Council member Paul Lawrence observed, “ Unlike several neighboring communities, Lucas is small, wants to remain primarily rural, has one of the highest per capita home values in the Metroplex and does not want to add dense commercial and residential facilities.” Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Peele added that, “We must preserve our quality of life”.

CCSRP Project Manager Jeff Neal briefed the council on the current status of CCSRP planning and reiterated several times that the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), a 50-year old voluntary association of local governments, established to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development, views its role as an active partner to Lucas and other Collin County towns and cities. He added, “No matter what your decision may be tonight about your support of the latest plan, we (NCTCOG) want to remain your partner.”  Neal also restated several times that the CCSRP is by no means a final plan, “It is a fluid process and is constantly evolving”.

In what appeared to seal the fate of withdrawing its support of the earlier resolution, Lucas Mayor Jim Olk observed, “Until now I have tried to remain supportive of the original resolution but it seems to me that preserving our support deprives the City of Lucas of having any real negotiating leverage in the matter. I am now convinced that we would be serving our residents best by rescinding that resolution.”

Council member Debbie Fisher moved the adoption of a new resolution rescinding the city’s earlier resolution of support.  The council unanimously supported Fisher’s motion.

After the vote was recorded, Jeff Neal, informed, “This decision in no way affects NCTCOG’s strong partnership with the City of Lucas in helping to address transportation and other issues of local and regional significance both now or in the future.  We remain fully committed, as before, to continue working with the City of Lucas, other jurisdictions, and Collin County in advancing the critical study objectives of the CCSRP as quickly and effectively as we can.  We ultimately hope among our partners to identify, reach consensus, and collectively accept reasonable responsibilities for future freeway and thoroughfare alternatives that may accommodate the area’s persistent growth and travel demands…but, that at the same time also attempt to preserve or enhance each community’s unique and essential quality of life standards…as much as possible”.

The extraordinary growth of Collin County is bringing with it a plethora of traffic and roadway construction headaches for residents and town councils. Most recent city council agendas throughout the county include at least one, and often times, several agenda items related to roads and traffic concerns. Given demographer’s projections for continued robust population growth the issues are likely to continue to land on council agendas for some time to come.

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