The Texas Department of Transportation is standing behind its goal of reopening the once busy Raguet and East Austin intersection before the Nacogdoches ISD school year begins on Aug. 26.

Part of an ongoing project to widen East Austin Street to four lanes between North and Raguet streets, the intersection closing to replace underground utilities was delayed last May until classes were dismissed for the summer.

Since both SFA Charter School and Raguet Elementary are mere blocks away from the intersection, TxDOT delayed the work and stated in June that the intersection would be open by the time classes resumed for fall. Charter School classes began Wednesday, while Raguet students have 10 more days of summer.

Neighbors are skeptical.

“No way will they be done in time for school,” said Billy Lusk, who has watched much of the progress from his front porch.

But TxDOT this week stood behind its timeline.

“We are still on track to open by the 26th, weather permitting,” TxDOT Lufkin District spokesperson Rhonda Oaks said.

When the $2.9 million street widening project is complete in mid-2020, the Raguet intersection will have a traffic signal, according to plans. East Austin Street closed to through traffic in January and will remain so until the project is complete.

East Austin and Raguet streets aren’t the only area drivers are advised to avoid. Night work will continue through this Monday at two major intersections: State Hwy. 21 E at Loop 224, and at US 59 S and Loop 224. Drivers going north on US 59 will be diverted to Loop 224, and those traveling on Loop 224 will be diverted to exit ramps at State Highway 21 East. Traffic control and signage will be in place, according to TxDOT.

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