Business owner speaks out about Highway 31 changes

TxDOT plans to widen Highway 31

EAST TEXAS - Texas State Highway 31 has been referred to as "Bloody 31" for dozens of years. People have been talking about the issues they have with the road for years. 

This week, there are multiple opportunities to share what you have to say. 

TxDOT has plans to widen the road from a 2-lane highway to a 4-lane highway. They are holding two public meetings to discuss the project. 

The first meeting will be in Kilgore on Tuesday at the Highland Park Baptist Church. The second meeting will be in Tyler on Thursday at the TxDOT Tyler District. Both meetings will be from 5-7 p.m.

The plan is to widen the highway to four lanes from Loop 323 in Tyler, all the way to FM 1639 in Kilgore. 

TxDOT and the Tyler Economic Development Council say the improvements are for safety, to support the traffic in and out of the different counties, and help with economic growth. 

Longtime homeowner and business owner off the highway, Ben Warren says he's hoping to see an increase in business, but his main concern is seeing the road become a safer place. 

"When you come over that hill, it's a very dangerous spot... at least once a week I can hear the firetrucks leave right down the street here heading there. " Warren said. 

Warren said he's been living in his house since the highway was just a dirt road and It's been called "Bloody 31" for over 40 years. 

He credits the recent passing lanes and Tyler becoming a wet city with the decreases in accidents, but says they are still higher than he would like. 

Crosses are always up along "Bloody 31" with people remembering lives lost in the different accidents along the highway. 

Warren said there's one where he turns to go to work and go home that's been there for years. It's his reminder that he looks at everyday. 

"So I know every time you turn here to come home you might be in an accident." he said. 

© 2017 KYTX-TV


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