Editor’s Note: The discussion of a relief route has been an emotional one and has raised numerous questions which will be addressed in subsequent stories. How would a relief route affect tax revenue? Love’s is building a facility on the north side of Dumas. Will the relief route affect them or the Toot’n Totum planned for 1st Street and Dumas Avenue? Who will pay to buy the right of ways?
When the Moore County Commissioners’ Court reached the truck relief route on their agenda Monday, Judge Rowdy Rhoades immediately threw out facts he said show the importance of planning for the future rather than doing nothing and letting TxDOT solely decide where a relief route will be built.
Rhoades said Google Maps and other GPS apps are already directing travelers around Dumas, which is creating a bypass out of Dumas’ control. He added that waiting any longer without communicating and working with TxDOT on a plan will have significant negative effects on Dumas.
“It’s been talked about for 30 years,” Rhoades said. “If they (TxDOT) put the relief route in at Four Way, it will kill Dumas.”
Concerns that Dumas officials’ stalling on the relief route will cause TxDOT to build a relief route far south of the city convinced the commissioners to approve a resolution that will “request that the Texas Department of Transportation conduct a study regarding the feasibility of construction a relief route …”
Dumas Mayor Pat Sims asked the commissioners to wait on passing the resolution until the city and the county can hold a joint meeting and pass it simultaneously. The commissioners declined.
“We’re ready to do one now,” Rhoades said.
But not everyone agrees that immediate action on plans for a relief route need to be taken. Dumas Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Mike Running has argued that now isn’t the time to pursue discussions with TxDOT.
“My recommendation has and will continue to be to DO NOTHING TODAY (his emphasis),” Running said in an email to the Dumas City Commissioners. “Don’t ask TxDOT to give us an opinion of a route choice … Hold off on anything so as to provide us with time to prepare, save funds and plan for the impending bypass in the next 5-10 years. They will be back!”
Rhoades and the county commissioners counter and say the relief route won’t be built for at least 10 years. They say the studies TxDOT must complete will take up to two years. The additional time to buy right of ways and make other preparations, including putting the funding in place, puts the relief route’s timeline out far enough for Dumas and its businesses to prepare for it, and the commissioners say they aren’t willing to jeopardize the city’s future by waiting any longer to plan for a relief route.
“It’s pretty simple to me,” Commissioner Lynn Cartrite said. “It’s a matter of survival. We bring the traffic to us, or we sit on our hands and let the traffic go to Channing or Dalhart.”
Running, however, says TxDOT won’t divert traffic away from Dumas.
“There is no other location for TxDOT to move traffic as well as US 287,” he said in the email. “The investment is and has always been with this highway. US 354, Tascosa Road, Channing, Dalhart, terrain all are too cost-prohibitive to expand on, through or around.”
Running didn’t attend the county commission meeting Monday, and he didn’t stay for the entirety of the city’s recent public forum held to discuss covering Dumas Avenue with concrete and a possible relief route.
Rhoades passed out a map to the commissioners that shows a proposed truck relief route. Travelers could exit off of Highway 287 near Dumas RV Resort south of Dumas. Highway 722 would cross the route, with an option to turn onto it or continue in to Dumas. An exit at the hotels would give travelers access to them, and another exit would allow travelers to turn onto Highway 87. Another exit takes traffic to Road L between Amarillo College and DEDC.
The Dumas City Commissioners haven’t passed a resolution, but a joint meeting with the county is set for Feb. 22 at the Moore County Community Building. At a recent city commission meeting, the commissioners discussed the route but weren’t prepared to take a position on it.