By Andrea Bolt
At its Sept. 10 meeting, the Oak Ridge North City Council passed a resolution opposing the building of a new flyover connecting I-45 and Research Forest Drive, as well as forthcoming plans to reverse certain entrance and exit ramps on I-45.
Mayor Jim Kuykendall said he was especially concerned about how the projects would potentially make it more difficult for people to reach Oak Ridge North's businesses and retail destination areas.
“ This has the potential of hurting the retail area we have worked so hard to build up. I believe it will hurt the city as far as tax revenue,” Kuykendall said. “This is a bad project.”
Councilman Al Stahl took the liberty of asking various business managers at locations along I-45 that would be affected how they felt toward the potential traffic changes.
Stahl said he spoke with the manager of Home Depot, who said he thought both projects would help traffic congestion in the area. Stahl said he was not exactly opposed to the projects, however, he said he disagreed with the way The Woodlands Township handled the matter.
“ I just want us to look at the facts and have a broader understanding of what's going on because we have a knee jerk reaction to anything we think might hurt sales tax,” Stahl said.
Council members Francis Planchard and Jim Simon were both against the traffic projects, as was City Manager Vicky Rudy.
“ The real point here is that there needs to be something done and not all options have been looked at or considered,” Rudy said.
Kuykendall agreed and put forth the motion to oppose, the same action the City of Shenandoah took in its Aug. 22 meeting.
“ We're going to force our merchants to do more and have to generate more advertising to get more people in there; I think they deserve better,” said Kuykendall, who attended the TxDOTmeeting informing the local city governments of the funding behind the project.
Councilman Tom Coale shared the mayor's negative feelings.
“ There was no consultation done; (the township) have the money and the road district and went ahead and did it. Until I know all the facts and what its going to be, I'm not going to vote for it or support it,” Councilman Tom Coale said.