Those who travel on Loop 338 in Odessa on a daily basis will get a chance to express their opinions on future improvements through an interactive online survey conducted by the Odessa District of the Texas Department of Transportation.
The survey will be available to the public through June 7.
“We’re trying to get a feel for what the public thinks should happen,” Odessa District of TxDOT Public Information Officer Gene Powell said. “Engineers always have ideas and training and they know what they’re doing, but they’re not the ones driving it every day. We want people who are driving it every day and see issues on a regular basis to weigh in and tell us what those issues are and that will help us make better decisions as engineers and planners.”
The survey’s aim is to help identify future improvements that may be needed on Loop 338.
Participants in the survey can make comments and point out what they see as priorities for the loop moving forward.
“We’ve done a few things like this before,” Powell said. “Obviously, for the last year with COVID, we’ve really moved into the virtual world so this is a survey that’s similar to ones pre-COVID that TxDOT would do and we’re really early in the process and this is an economical way to reach a lot of people. I think we sent out some 19,000 flyers about it, so it’s a way to get a lot of information from a lot of varying forces and that’s important as we plan.”
A press release from the Odessa District of TxDOT says that the first page of the survey shows six segments of Loop 338.
The second page gives participants a chance to rank how segments should be prioritized for improvements.
Participants will then get a chance to identify what they consider to be the issues each segment faces and how improvements can help.
An interactive map will allow people to drop icons on the sections where issues exist.
Powell says that some of the things he expects to hear from on the survey is the need for more lanes.
“For example, the northwest section is only a two-lane road right now,” Powell said. “We expect people to ask about intersection improvements whether it be overpasses or signals. We’re putting in an overpass right now at north loop 338 and (U.S. Highway) 385 and we expect people to say they want one on the south loop as well which makes sense. There are also safety issues, whether it’d be concrete medians in some locations or flatter highways in some locations that aren’t divided right now because they’re two lanes. There’s going to be questions about the section of 338 on the east side of Odessa over by UTPB because there’s not much room to widen the road there so there’ll be concerns about that. It kind of runs from safety to mobility to capacity and the fact that it’s not a true loop because it’s not controlled access because you have red lights in some places. It’s pretty wide-ranging.”
In getting the word out about the survey, Powell says they have sent out tons of mailers.
“We’re using social media,” Powell said. “The media is helping us get the word out. We’re using our transportation partners who have helped us out and the Permian Road Safety Coalition. We’re trying to turn over as many rocks as we can, but we want people to weigh in. Giving your opinion on social media and griping about it is something that we all like to do, but this is a way to really be proactive and helpful with your criticisms and concerns so we hope people take the opportunity to tell us what they see and help us make better decisions.”
This will be the first of two surveys. The second survey launch date has not been scheduled yet.
“We’ll take all the information from the first survey before we start crafting the second survey,” Powell said. “It’ll probably be more along the lines of ‘OK, here are the concerns. Which ones do you want to see first?’ and ‘Here are the improvements we want to make. Where should we start?’ That kind of stuff is what I expect the second survey to be. But it also could refine some of the answers that we get from the first survey so it’s still up in the air. … (The second survey) hasn’t been developed yet.”
Construction dates have not been set since priorities have not been made.
“We’re probably looking at five years out, at least,” Powell said. “Probably more. This is a very long project. I can’t imagine anything starting within five years. Right now, we don’t even have funding for anything so this is a long term project that we want to craft what the entire loop should look like and then start moving forward.”
To participate in the survey, go to www.txdot.gov and search “Odessa Loop 338” from May 18 through June 7.
For questions or concerns relating to the proposed project or the interactive online survey, contact Advanced Planning Engineer for TxDOT Odessa District Gabriel Ramirez at 432-498-4645 or Gabriel.Ramirez@TxDOT.gov.