Public hearing on Neches River Bridge study

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The Texas Department of Transportation is conducting a public hearing Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Beaumont Civic Center to present proposed rail improvements and receive public comment pertaining to the Neches River Bridge Study.

Displays will be available for review at 5:30 p.m. The formal hearing begins at 6:30 p.m.

The project begins east of Archie Street and the Kansas City Southern (KCS) Railway line in Beaumont and ends near Old US 90 just west of Rose City in Orange County. The existing facility is the primary east-west rail corridor through the city of Beaumont and includes the only river crossing in the region, the Neches River Rail Bridge, a single-track vertical lift span bridge owned and operated by KCS.

TxDOT is proposing to add an additional track over the Neches River, which requires construction and operation of an additional lift bridge north of the existing rail bridge in Jefferson and Orange counties. The project would be subject to Chapter 26 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code for the taking of land associated with the Riverfront Park. Section 4(f) and Section 6(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act would also apply. It is anticipated that a de minimis Section 4(f) determination would be pursued for the Riverfront Park and Beaumont Police Department. Section 6(f) would apply to Riverfront Park.

The project would occur within regulated floodplains; however, the project would not increase water surface elevations during a base flood event. An individual Section 404 permit would be obtained for impacts to wetlands. The project would have no adverse effect to properties protected under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Approximately 2 acres of additional right of way would be acquired, as well as a temporary easement for 21.5 acres for a construction laydown/staging area. A land use agreement would be required from the Texas General Land Office for the crossing of the Neches River. Although additional right of way is required, no residential structures or businesses would be displaced.

The Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) will also be available for comment at a public hearing. The study team will then respond to those comments within the Final EA prior to the lead agency making the decision.

The Beaumont Civic Center is downtown at 701 Main St. The public hearing was originally scheduled for the evening of July 28 but was postponed. For more information, contact Sarah Dupre at Sarah [dot] Dupre [at] txdot [dot] gov or (409) 898-5745.