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TPWD News Release — Jan. 25, 2013

TPW Commission Approves Land Transfer to Aid Construction of New Franklin Mountains State Park Entrance

AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its Thursday meeting passed a resolution approving the transfer eight acres of Franklin Mountains State Park property in El Paso to facilitate the construction of a new, safer park entrance off of State Loop 375.

The acreage will be transferred to the Texas Department of Transportation so the agency can build a new intersection and new park entrance designed to enhance the safety of visitors entering and exiting the park from the loop, also known as Transmountain Road. TPWD has conducted an environmental review of the entrance design and construction methodologies to ensure that they will have minimal impact on the environment and wildlife resources.

The new park entrance and divided highway design incorporates a wildlife crossing under Loop 375 that also will serve for the first time to connect the northern and southern halves of the state park for pedestrian and bike traffic. The highway design also creates independent turn lanes completely separated from the main driving lanes of Transmountain Road, which connects east and west El Paso through a mile-high mountain pass.

In addition, the new intersection will not further degrade vista views since the crossover will be constructed under Loop 375. Minimal viewshed impacts may occur from the additional roadway exit /on ramps required to access the crossover.

Commissioners also learned during a Wednesday work session that the El Paso Public Service Board has offered TPWD a bargain sale of approximately 600 acres just west of the Franklin Mountains State Park boundary for addition to the 25,809-acre park. The tract of undeveloped land would provide a buffer from pending new growth and expand public recreational opportunities.

TPWD staff was given the go-ahead by commissioners to begin negotiations with PSB for the acreage that straddles Loop 375 and to provide proper public notice and obtain public input regarding the possible land acquisition.

In other land business, the commission accepted the donation from Brazoria County of roughly 480 acres of land adjacent to the Christmas Bay Coastal Preserve. It also authorized TPWD to take all steps necessary to acquire up to 350 acres from the General Land Office to be added to the Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area in Hemphill County.