Welcomed by some and dreaded by others, a new section of FM 2499 joining Highland Village and Corinth is nearing completion about six months ahead of schedule and will open to the public on Saturday, Oct. 30th.
FM 2499 Section 4 is a four-lane, 4.7-mile stretch of road that includes two bridges over the far western portions of Lake Lewisville between FM 407 in Highland Village and FM 2181 in Corinth.
This new road literally bridges the gap between the Highland Village/Flower Mound communities and the Corinth area, and the nearby cities and towns of Denton, Lake Dallas, Hickory Creek and Shady Shores.
County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell said the project started as a result of a comprehensive transportation study to identify transportation needs in Denton County in 1985. She acknowledges that while some are thrilled with the project coming to fruition, others are not so happy.
“I have heard several opinions since I have been in office. There are some citizens that do not want the road and others that are glad for additional access to and from the north and south end of the county and to the airport,” she said.
In late 2007, a group of Highland Village residents filed a lawsuit attempting to stop the project, saying that the road is too close to homes, would cause air pollution, lower property values and destroy the area’s rural charm. The suit was dismissed by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in June 2008.
Highland Village Public Affairs Manager Laurie Mullens also said the construction project has been a controversial issue.
“City elections have taken place with this issue as the dominant campaign platform,” said Mullens.
“The strength of Highland Village residents and the differences of opinion on the impacts of this new corridor has been the energy and driving force behind the city and its leaderships’ priority to minimize the impact of the roadway.”
Mullens said that city leaders successfully lobbied TxDOT for a traffic signal at FM 2499 and Highland Shores Blvd., which is expected to be installed when the road open.
Other features include a tunnel constructed under FM 2499 to allow pedestrian access to the city’s trail system; the barrier curb height was increased from three feet to five feet; the architecture of the retaining walls was built to match the look and feel of Highland Village developments, and moving forward Mullens said the city will partner with Denton County and TxDOT on a landscaping project for the corridor medians.
“Just as the city worked with residents, Denton County and TxDOT during the construction of FM 2499, the city will continue to focus on the safety and quality of life for the residents and visitors to Highland Village,” Mullens added.
Perhaps no one is more aware of the controversy than Highland Village City Manager Michael Leavitt, who has been immersed in the project in one form or another for the past 11 years. During that time, Leavitt has served Highland Village as Director of Public Works, interim City Manager, and City Manager, a post he has held for the last seven years.
Leavitt said he sees the project as a way to bridge different communities together and at the same time provide economic growth for Highland Village and Denton County as a whole.
“Retail developers had identified that this was going to be a very beneficial corridor opening up, and it will provide a lot of growth to the city of Highland Village and to the area. I think it’s all on the upside, and we truly do see this as continuing a vision to provide economic growth for Highland Village and Denton County,” Leavitt said.
Kelly Smith, Consumer Marketing Manager at The Shops at Highland Village, agrees with that assessment.
“This is positive news for The Shops at Highland Village. We anticipate the bridge will make it more convenient for consumers to access the shopping center. FM 2499 runs right by the center. The bridge approach will introduce many new customers to our retailers, restaurants and service businesses.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for 10:00 the morning of October 30th, prior to the official opening of the road. The location for the event is on FM 2499 north of Orchid Hill Lane at the foot of the second bridge. Partners in the ribbon cutting are the City of Highland Village, Denton County Precincts 1 & 3, and TxDOT.
On the same day as the bridge grand opening, The Shops at Highland Village will celebrate with a costume contest for dogs and children at its first Haunts and Hounds Halloween event from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event is free and open to everyone. Haunts and Hounds benefits Southern Denton County Neighbor to Neighbor, a local non-profit organization that supports area social service agencies that provides needs such as emergency assistance, family counseling, medical support, and youth development programs.
“Southern Denton County Neighbor to Neighbor does so much for the people of our community, and all of us at The Shops at Highland Village believe in their mission and want to dedicate this event to give them the support they need,” said Smith.
Judges will award prizes for the best, scariest, most creative and funniest costumes for dogs, owner-dog combos, children, and family costume themes. The costume contest is at 3 p.m. in the courtyard area between Blue Goose Cantina and Rockfish Seafood Grill.
“We’re expecting hundreds of costumed children and dogs to visit The Shops at Highland Village that day,” Smith said.
“We’ll have live entertainment for parents and treat-or-treating for costumed kids ages 12 and under. It’s going to be a great family event.”