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The Marsha Sharp Freeway flyovers at West Loop 289 opened in 2008. Half of the funding for the $185 million project was announced in 2001.

Another $16.5 million awarded for Marsha Sharp Freeway

2001 The Marsha Sharp Freeway grew closer to reality with an announcement Friday that more than half the money has been secured to build the $185 million project.

Steve Warren, director of transportation, planning and development for the Texas Department of Transportation's Lubbock district, announced that $16.5 million was awarded to build main lanes and frontage roads along U.S. 62/82 from Salem to Memphis avenues.

Construction on the first-phase of the freeway is scheduled to begin next summer at Southwest Loop 289 and the Brownfield Highway, where the loop will be expanded to six lanes, Warren said.

"I think the $16.5 million awarded by the commission recognizes that Lubbock is a key player in the state's economy," Warren said.

The additional funding now means $97 million has been secured to date for the freeway, including $46.4 million from the commission, $22.8 million from Urban Mobility funds, $20 million from federal demonstration fund and $7.88 million from district discretionary funds.

When completed, the Marsha Sharp Freeway will connect the city's southwest side to Interstate 27.

In unrelated transportation news, Lubbock Chamber of Commerce chairman John Elliott confirmed that his organization plans to form a coalition of cities aimed at bringing Amtrak rail service to Lubbock.

Elliott said the chamber plans to pursue rail service through the help of other local business leaders and other chambers of commerce along the proposed Caprock Chief route. The proposed line would connect Dallas to Denver through Lubbock.

"I think this has great possibilities. ... From an economic development standpoint, it will bring more visitors and guests to our city, but putting this together will take time," he said.

The chamber coalition will be loosely patterned after Ports-to-Plains, whose member cities in four states are working toward completing a 1,000-mile, four-lane highway from Denver to the Mexican border. The highway would go through Lubbock.

Amtrak officials are scheduled to be in Lubbock Nov. 7 to meet with the chamber's transportation committee and others.

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