Club member Tyler Simpson, owner of Simpson's Fitness and Adventure Sports, said the cyclist organization has raised $49,000 since the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority board's meeting in March. The group has until the authority's July meeting to raise $60,000 to cover expenses for safety upgrades for bicyclists to use segments of the road.
The authority's board voted to allow bicycle access on Segments 1, 2 and 5, a 10-mile stretch connecting Texas Highway 155, near Noonday, to Texas Highway 110, near Whitehouse. Bicycles are prohibited on Segments 3A and 3B, from Texas Highway 155 to Interstate 20
The vote and subsequent agreement was contingent upon the bicycling community funding the total cost of safety improvements, including striping and signs, along the three segments by the board's July meeting. Striping a 4-foot-wide bicycle lane near the outside edge of Toll 49''s shoulders and putting in appropriate signage was estimated to cost $60,000 by NETRMA staff.
Simpson said the group has received numerous donations from Tyler and area businesses. He said Brookshire's locations are donating 25 cents to the bicycle club for the improvements from every "Kona Deep" water sold through April.
"We'll be close or we'll have it but so far everything has been very positive," he said. "But we still have a little way to go and you know the last 20 percent is usually the toughest."
Donors can contribute via check to the Tyler Bicycle Club at PO Box 6734, Tyler 75711. Checks should be made out for the club's "striping and safety" project, Simpson said.