The video above was shot by Jeffrey Gator Moore, a student producer in our program. This is his third production, and which he shot on an iPhone.
The following is a press release on August 12, on the morning of the ribbon cutting.
The important southwestern section of the bypass around the City of Kaufman ceremonially opened August 12, amidst speeches and fanfare, but marked significantly with a “first ride” for many of the city and county officials and staff, economic development leaders, TxDOT officials, project contractors and local residents who have worked and planned on the project for a long time, some for almost 40 years. The soon-to-be-opened section runs from the existing SH 34 (or S. Washington St) on the Southwest end to U.S. 175 on the North East end of the road. This section, which was partially financed by a pass-through funding cooperation between TxDOT and several local public entities, will let the traveling public start using part of the by-pass in a few weeks, to help alleviate the congestion on the very narrow S. Washington St. through Kaufman.
Funding partners for the project include the City of Kaufman, TxDOT Dallas District (pass through funding program), Kaufman County, Kaufman Economic Development Corporation, with funding acquisition assistance, right-of-way acquisition, and construction management by Raba Kistner (Program Manager/Engineers).
According to Kaufman County Judge, Bruce Wood, “This segment of the SH 34 Bypass will not only serve the driving public well, but will literally open up hundreds of acres of land for both residential and commercial development. It is a much needed and long awaited improvement in which County of Kaufman is proud to participate. It truly is a win-win situation.”
Lee Ayres, Executive Director of the Kaufman Economic Development Corporation, was enthusiastic about the growing economic opportunities “Next to building an international commercial airport, highways are the number one job generators in the economic development business. This project will stimulate more industrial, commercial and retail development than anything Kaufman has done previously in its history.”
Leading the morning’s “first ride” was a mystery until this morning but it was revealed to be local favorite and World War II Veteran, Guinn Godwin, who, along with many other friends in Kaufman, has been hoping for this project for longer than most people can remember. But don’t let the celebration fool you: the folks were here to mark another milestone in a project that has long been needed to address serious concerns for safety, preserving Kaufman streets from heavy truck traffic, and increasing mobility in the area.
The entire bypass project is being built to relocate SH 34 from 1.0 mile southwest of FM 1388 to south of US 175. The new SH 34 Southwest section has various improvements that will both help the community support future traffic levels, but more importantly, will immediately move reduce congestion from downtown Kaufman and reduce damage to city streets caused by heavy truck thru-traffic. The project is also expected to result in economic development along the new route and will reduce safety and traffic jam issues that are increased during school traffic hours around Kaufman’s middle school and high school.
“The school district is thrilled that the long awaited 34 By-Pass is about to open,” commented Loraine Blaylock, Ed.D., Superintendent of Kaufman ISD. “The bypass will increase access to several district campuses and events as well as easing traffic congestion at the beginning and end of the school day. The bypass will also provide areas for development that will have a positive impact on our school system.”
“This is an exciting, historic time in Kaufman” said Mike Slye, Kaufman’s City Manager. “45 years of planning, meetings, strategy sessions, coordinating, and yes, begging, has made this time a reality for our community. This new asset will mean significant upgrades to the transportation efficiency and safety within our community and economic development opportunities that we haven’t even thought of yet. Our retailers, citizens and visitors to Kaufman will all benefit as a result of this ‘never say never’ approach to the completion of the SH34 Bypass project. Kaufman has every right to stand tall and be proud today.”
Jeffrey Bush, PE, TxDOT Area Engineer for Kaufman County, said, “This project is a true partnership between the City of Kaufman, Kaufman County, Kaufman Economic Development Corporation, and TxDOT. The ultimate completion of this section of the SH 34 Bypass will provide safety, mobility, and connectivity along SH 34 within Kaufman.”
A project with this kind of history and involvement might make it hard to come together, even though the funding was finally in place. Everyone worked hard to make it go smoothly. “One of the reasons that the project went so smoothly was due to the level of cooperation between the City of Kaufman, TxDOT, Ed Bell Construction, and Raba Kistner,” said Justin Nipp, the Project Manager who works for Raba Kistner. “All parties were committed to ensuring that the SH 34 Bypass would be a first-rate roadway to travel for many years to come. The bypass will allow heavy truck traffic in the area to avoid downtown Kaufman, reducing congestion while opening up a whole new area for development.”
“Completion of this project represents so many things; more efficient mobility, future economic development and future residential development to name a few,” said Kaufman Mayor, Jeff Jordan. “But more than anything, I think it represents the persistent nature of the people of Kaufman. We’re not the kind to give up on an idea.”