The Lubbock Outer Route: 10 things you should know
The Lubbock Outer Route is an ambitious highway project that will greatly affect Lubbock’s population growth and real estate development in the years ahead.
How will the Lubbock Outer Route affect Lubbock in the coming years? Here are 10 noteworthy details—complete with images and excerpts from several sources—that explain this important highway project.
#1 – The initial proposal from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) called for an outer loop around the entire city of Lubbock. However, TxDOT decided to adjust that plan.
The initial vision was for a second loop outside of Loop 289 to serve the entire metropolitan area. Early in this planning process, it was determined that traffic demands for the northern and eastern portions of the circumferential highway would be extremely low due to the lack of development pressure and the available capacity of the existing highway network north and east of US 87. Therefore, the north and eastern portions of the loop concept were eliminated from further discussion, and the Outer Loop became an Outer Route (TxDOT).
Lubbock city limits (TxDOT)
#2 – Lubbock’s substantial population growth creates a need for the Lubbock Outer Route. If it is not developed, existing roadways and infrastructure would be overwhelmed by the increase in vehicle traffic.
Over the last decade the Lubbock region has experienced substantial population growth, particularly toward neighborhoods south and west of the city center. In fact, Lubbock County added over 36,000 residents between 2000 and 2010, more than were added in the previous two decades combined (TxDOT).
Lubbock metro population projections (Lubbock Metropolitan Planning Organization)
#3 – In addition to population growth, unusually high accident rates on existing Lubbock highways suggest a need for the Lubbock Outer Route.
Safety is an important consideration in any transportation project. [...] The existing facilities including SL 289 and US 84 experience crash rates higher than the statewide average for similar facilities. With additional growth in traffic by 2040, the number of crashes could be expected to be even higher (TxDOT).
#4 – When Loop 289 was built in the 1960s and 1970s, it accelerated Lubbock’s urban development and expansion. The Lubbock Outer Route should have a similar effect, improving accessibility and spurring development in south and west Lubbock.
- Increase access to portions of the metropolitan area that are expected to grow over the next 40 years.
- Address growing transportation needs through the provision of additional capacity.
- Improve the safety and efficiency of travel.
- Foster economic development in areas by providing increased accessibility (TxDOT).
#5 – The Lubbock Outer Route frontage roads will be built first with a wide median separating them. Main lanes between the frontage roads will be added later.
Construction plan (TxDOT)
#6 – Construction of the Lubbock Outer Route could begin in 2020—four years from now.
The Lubbock District of the Texas Department of Transportation wants construction to start on the future Outer Route in 2020, about 10 years earlier than the original timeline (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal).
#7 – Construction of the Lubbock Outer Route will likely be ongoing for three decades, which is a typical timeframe for major highway projects (the Marsha Sharp Freeway took about 40 years to complete).
Steve Warren, District Engineer for the TxDOT Lubbock District, said, “If we start in 2020 on this one, it could easily be 2050 before the whole thing is finished” (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal).
#8 – The first construction phases will take place in south central Lubbock, between Wolfforth and U.S. 87.
The first section of the four-lane divided freeway expected to go along the outside of West and South Lubbock would follow the route of 130th Street, or FM 1585, between Memphis Avenue and Avenue U. TxDOT will then continue constructing sections in two-year increments until U.S. 62 south of Wolfforth is connected with U.S. 87, then go to the second of four segments, and so on (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal).
Initial Lubbock Outer Route segment (TxDOT)
#9 – Purchasing the right of way for the first phase of the Lubbock Outer Route will likely cost more than the Marsha Sharp Freeway’s right of way.
Warren compared it to the Marsha Sharp Freeway project, which he said took about 40 years from first consideration to completion. He said between Milwaukee Avenue to Interstate 27, right of way for the Marsha Sharp Freeway cost $160 million and it took $350 million to build. The cost to build the first segment of the Outer Route is expected to be $450 million (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal).
#10 – TxDOT is currently conducting environmental and schematic studies for the Lubbock Outer Route. The next phase will be engineering and design.
TxDOT first has to complete its environmental and schematic study, hone in on a preferred route to design the final alignments, acquire the right of way and then go out for construction bids. The environmental study is currently in the works, and Steve Warren (district engineer for the Lubbock TxDOT district) said it’s still about 12 months away from completion. This study analyzes both the natural and human environment, noise, potential effects on water and air, endangered species and historical structures (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal).
Project phases (TxDOT)
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Contact: Garrett Haley, (806) 784-3219
Coldwell Banker Commercial Capital Advisors
Sources: TxDot Lubbock Outer Route website, TxDOT preferred route option map, TxDOT Lubbock Outer Route Study Final Report, Lubbock Metropolitan Planning Organization, April 2016 report from Lubbock Avalanche-Journal