Residents Petition Against Texas 66 Expansion Project

Royse City residents concerned about historic street and homes

By Tammy Mutasa
|  Wednesday, Apr 3, 2013  |  Updated 7:49 AM CDT
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Residents have started a petition fighting the Texas Department of Transportation's plan to expand Texas State Highway 66 which would change a historic street through Royse City.

Residents have started a petition fighting the Texas Department of Transportation's plan to expand Texas State Highway 66 which would change a historic street through Royse City.

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Some Royse City residents are petitioning the Texas Department of Transportation to change a multimillion dollar plan to convert a street into a highway.

The proposed reconstruction project involves widening Texas 66 from Texas 205 in Rockwall to FM 1777 in Royse City.

Residents opposed to the expansion project have a petition circulating that currently has more than 200 signatures urging TxDOT to stop expanding the state Highway 66 route through the historic Church Street.

The proposed Texas 66 expansion will affect Church Street making it a 45- to 50- foot wide roadway affecting homes along Church Street, Josephine Street, government housing on Houston Street and the historic First United Methodist Church.

The petition calls for TxDOT to stop the project, which involves expanding the historic Church Street into a wider state Highway 66 west. The existing state Highway 66 through downtown Royse City would become a one-way highway east.

Neighbors worry about traffic, losing their properties and a piece of history.

For resident Carol Burks, the expansion means history lost for the 125-year-old First United Methodist Church along the street.

"My house being right next to it, I was very upset," said Burks. "My great, great uncle on my father’s side built this church and the impact of 66 passing by this church and widening it and taking away the easements is greatly going to affect how this church looks."

For long-time resident Doyle Walker, a plan to turn his neighborhood street into a state highway is hitting too close to home.

"So what they're going to do is take 10, another five-10 feet here, so you can see where my yard would be," said Walker. "Our street is 21 feet across, they're wanting to change that 45 to 50 feet plus shoulders, they want to basically take our front yards, so we would have 18-wheelers running down our street and we're not very happy."

Rockwall County leaders say the Texas 66 project is part of a $100 million dollar reconstruction plan for the growing county, but the expansion might not even happen since the county only has $30 million to spend on the project.

"We will work with TxDOT and the city to find a solution, " said Rockwall County Commissioner David Magness. "We're finding that the 66 project may not be funded in it's entirety as we expected when we first started the program so we're looking at an opportunity, to do another fix on that road."

The Royse City Council just passed a resolution sending the Texas 66 project back to TxDOT for the agency to reconsider the plan.

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