by Larry Lemmons
Amarillo, Texas - The future of Loop 335 is uncertain but some trends are developing.
Amarillo City Commissioners have given the go ahead on a first reading of an ordinance to change the zoning of property on the Southeast corner of Broadway and St. Francis from residential to light commercial.
A lot of people live on the loop, for example, a stretch of houses in North Pleasant Valley. The Loop also has a lot of businesses. Gerald Owens not only operates Jeep's Unlimited on the Loop at St. Francis, he also lives next to it on the loop. His family has owned the property for decades and he says living next to the highway doesn't bother him. "I purchased enough land around me I don't have that issue. Our home is insulated enough we never hear the expressway."
The Loop has prisons and its destined to have a lot more...which could be an issue in terms of infrastructure. Amarillo City Commissioner Ron Boyd says, "Today, moving infrastructure out to Soncy, you know, unless it's already been done from some other housing development, like Hillside...so you would have to put that in."
Tx-DOT says improving the Loop will also be difficult because of lack of funding. Paul Braun says, "To actually add additional roadways to maybe move the loop farther west, or to add lanes to the loop, right now is pretty much out of the question due to the funding situation."
In fact, some believe having a real loop without stop signs and one-lane roads will be a challenge. "This is a great project and it's a great long range plan, but in terms of financing, I just don't see it," says Amarillo City Commissioner, Dr. Brian Eades, who's describing the potential realization of the Long Term Planning Committee charged with coming up with a development plan.
Former City Commissioner Robert Keys, who's currently President of Keys and Shehan Engineering, says his client, George Chapman, who owns most of the land west of Broadway to Tascosa road, plans to extend the Woodlands Development and build box stores and a school.