"That's the way they put these projects together is piece by piece. As one piece develops, with the most potential for tolls, it opens the door for the next segment," she explained. "As far as Kilgore is concerned, what you will all be the most concerned with is the connector that will be between Interstate 20 and Hwy. 80, somewhere in the Hwy. 42 area. That's probably what will have the most impact on yourselves.
"Whatever happens anywhere along this route is going to help develop the entire area."
The only role individual cityies play in the development of the toll road is to help with right-of-way purchases, Thomas added. The segments of the hourglass won't fall within the city limits of any town, they're constructed in rural areas: "We can't start cutting down subdivisions to put a highway in."
As such, NET RMA focuses on rural areas with the least amount of obstacles for building.
Near Kilgore and Liberty City, "You have all the oil wells -- reclamation of those is very costly. You have a lot of flood areas -- you can't build a highway in the middle of a floodplain," Thomas explained. "There are a lot of environmental issues that you have to take into consideration. Those are the issues we're kind of considering now.
"It will help connect the whole East Texas area."
The organization's board of directors recently-approved the inclusion of Kaufman County in the project area and is involved, with Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, in TxDOT's advisory committee for the development of Interstate 20.
"We're also interested in commuter rail," Thomas noted. I-20 would be the logical route to follow, but the process isn't that far along. "That's very fluid as far as the location where it would be."
But it's like everything else, Boswell said: plans have to start somewhere.
"Then, it takes a long time to implement these plans," she added. As far as the rail connection, "This is really in the state of what you would have to call 'long-term planning.' You just take it step-by-step."
According to Boswell, commuter rail is the working possibility, but that doesn't exclude joining forces with Amtrak.
"Amtrak is a different proposition in that Amtrak is inter-city rail, moving across the country. This would be commuter rail, probably more frequent and a shorter span. We're not going to take them to California," she explained. "It's not a competitive thing and it's not an exclusive thing. It's just another way to go. It offers a lot of possibilities."
East Texans want to go to Dallas, Boswell insisted. They want to go to Shreveport/ Bossier. They want to go to Houston. They want a quick route to DFW airport.
"I don't think we all want to do it in our individual automobiles," she said. "We need to get this primary link done for East Texas' sake.
"If you want me to tell you we're going to start in a couple, of weeks, don't get your hopes up. Don't buy your ticket yet. But I do think it's going to happen. It's going to be so great for this region of Texas, to link us together."
Copyright 2013 - Kilgore News Herald, Texas