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Businesses concerned as TxDOT looks to bypass traffic light near Bastrop

TxDOT is looking to build an overpass and add feeder roads to bypass a traffic light west of Bastrop on 71, but businesses are concerned it could encroach into their property. (Photo: CBS Austin)

Businesses are concerned a highway project to build an overpass over a traffic light on 71 could shut them down.

TxDOT held an open house Thursday evening for a project at FM 1209 and Highway 71. The plans include building an overpass in the area to bypass the traffic light, build new feeder roads, new turnarounds and widen FM 1209.

Some businesses on 71 said they planned to go to the meeting because they were concerned the project would extend the highway footprint into their properties.

“I’m concerned it’s going to interfere with a lot of little businesses that are out here,” said Charmaine Gonzales, manager of Alexander’s and Marisco’s.

Gonzales said their business sits pretty close to the highway, so new feeder roads could shove them out. “It could get to the point where everybody is going to have to sell or shut down,” Gonzales said.

While owners could move to a new location, she said workers like her would be out of jobs. That’s not to mention the loss of customers they could see if highway traffic sits on an overpass above their restaurant. “They’re not going to know to exit here, they’re not going to know this little bitty building is here or the BBQ place,” Gonzales said.

That’s also a concern for Connie McDonald, the co-owner of Little Mac’s Smokehouse on FM 1209. She’s also a little worried about the highway widening into her property. However, she said it could also help if they add a left-turn lane.

Still she’s worried about the other businesses off 71. “I would feel bad if something good for us hurt somebody else at the same time,” McDonald said. “All these are older businesses out there that are established and have been here for a long time and staples of our community.”

That’s why McDonald said she’d rather they keep the light. In fact, she’d like to see a new traffic light at the intersection of 1209 and Highway 21. That’s a highway many locals say is even more dangerous than 71.

She does understand, drivers would love to bypass that traffic light at 1209. However, she’s more aware of how that would affect those who live and work in the area. “If they hurt a bunch of the businesses I don’t know if that’s worth it,” McDonald said.

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