As TxDot Debates How To Relieve 380 Traffic, McKinney Reckons With The Impacts
Efforts to improve traffic on one McKinney highway have set off a battle between development interests and the existing residents who fear losing their homes, land and the city’s country-like vibe to rapid urbanization.
Plans to extend U.S. Highway 380 in McKinney — including a bypass option over land north of the highway — continue to draw detractors as the Texas Department of Transportation fleshes out alignment options to handle traffic congestion in the North Dallas suburb.
Highway 380 is a critical part of TxDot's infrastructure development study for McKinney since it is the city's only major artery stretching east to west, connecting cities as far away as Denton and Greenville.
One TxDot alignment proposed includes an extension to the existing 380 footprint, potentially impacting businesses and residents located next to the highway. Another option includes a bypass that will be constructed north of 380, cutting into farmland and residential properties.
TxDot has already narrowed its feasibility study down to two potential roadway alignments after proposing five last year. This month, it held several meetings to collect feedback from residents.
Tara Voigt, who lives in an area known as the McKinney Extraterritorial Jurisdiction, or ETJ, says her home is in the crosshairs of the proposed northern bypass. This particular alignment was envisioned by engineers to spare business owners on 380 from the disruptive force of expanding the existing highway infrastructure.
“My home resides mid-bypass, between the two eastern and western entrances and exits [of the proposed bypass],” Voigt told Bisnow. “I am passionate about this because it takes down our home if it goes through. I struggle with bypassing a bunch of businesses on a current highway. [But] my family and I never bought off of a highway. We did our due diligence to buy 2 miles north of a main highway that goes straight from here to New Mexico. I struggle with the fact that we already have a highway in place, so why is there is a need for a bypass that goes through beautiful countryside?”
Voigt said the bypass proposal, if selected, would wipe out her 5-acre property and residence. Rumors of the proposal have already killed real estate markets near her home, she said.
“People who need to sell their homes to move cannot do it because it’s looming about the potential of a bypass,” she said. “It’s not just my family that we’re fighting for and our home, which we love and are grateful to have. We are fighting for all of the other families who are impacted, who may not lose their home, but may have their backyards backing up to a highway and their kids playing in the backyard with a highway right behind them.”
Voigt thinks the only proper way to alleviate 380 congestion is to expand the existing highway, compensating any businesses nearby that would be impacted by such a project.
Land investors like Tom Hamilton — who doesn’t live in McKinney but owns 30 acres at the intersection of Interstate 75 and 543 — also have concerns.
Hamilton bought land more than 25 years ago, is not sure if the alignments are good or bad for his investment property, but one option near I-75 took him by surprise.
“I am a little concerned when you look at the intersection, when they’re re-routing 380, they’re taking it through the property next door (to mine), and they are taking away my corner. So yeah, I’m a little concerned as to what is going on,” Hamilton said. “It’s not the acreage, it is the access. Right now, we are at an intersection, whereas if they move it up, they route it up, I no longer have that.”
At the same time, Hamilton understands why the city is thinking of another option as opposed to buying out businesses on 380 to extend 380 itself.
“In my opinion, this [380 extension] gets expensive. You are going to have to buy shopping centers and all kinds of valuable property,” he added.
He also noted that the alignment to the north opens up a whole new territory for development in North McKinney. At this point, Hamilton is withholding judgment.
“I think that anytime you do anything new, it’s going to impact some people positively and impact some people negatively," he said. "It just depends on where you are, but anytime there is a change, change is sometimes good and sometimes it’s not good."
As passions run high on the issue, TxDot and city officials said it is too early to jump to conclusions because the agency is still working through its feasibility study for the project.
The agency plans to release its final recommended alignments in May. Another open meeting for impacted residents is set for this Thursday.
"I have been an advocate for withholding opinion," McKinney Mayor George Fuller said. "I have been very vocal in wanting TxDot to explore all options and to do impact studies on all options."
Fuller pointed to the North Dallas Tollway near Interstate 635 as an area where engineers putting in the original footprint structured it to mitigate damage.
"You don't have a 350- or 400-foot right of way footprint with two or three access lanes on either side, so they did that to mitigate the damage being done through the developed area," Fuller said. "Right now, we are pushing TxDot to look at all of those things — think outside the box and give us ultimately an impact study for all of the different options."
In the past two weeks, TxDot released alternative options to its realignment plan, giving city residents and officials more areas to consider. And while the controversy surrounding expansion in the 380 corridor area is obvious, construction is still several years out, TxDot spokesperson Ryan Lafontaine told Bisnow.
Despite some pushback, the need to do something at Highway 380 is apparent. Collin County is expected to grow from 800,000 people in 2010 to 3.8 million people by 2050. The area is already undergoing a type of industrial renaissance, which figures to lead to more and more trucks on the road servicing those properties.
“This whole thing started because of a need for an East-West corridor in Collin County and because of the current capacity,” Lafontaine said. “The idea is to provide an East-West corridor to relieve pressure on 380.”
TxDot collected 10,000 comments in just the past year, Lafontaine said. One thing everyone agrees on: The city is growing, 380 is congested and McKinney and its residents will be dealing with these issues for years to come.