SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – New construction and improvements at the second Georgia Pacific plant in Sweetwater are closing a road for a few months, and residents in Nolan County will need to find some new routes.
Ken Becker, interim director with Sweetwater Economic Development says the road FM 1856, “will be shut down from I-20 back to almost County Road 220, and that 220 will still be open so you’ll have plenty of access.”
Becker says the goal for the road closure is to improve traffic, infrastructures like water and sewer lines, and start the installation of a new railroad crossing to service the new plant.
“It’s bringing opportunity. When you think about someone coming back to Sweetwater and wanting a great-paying job, GP will provide that. Manufacturing in Nolan County is a very big deal, about 15% of our working population works in manufacturing, so this is just another add-on to that,” said Becker.
Once it is operational, the new plant will employ approximately 120 full-time workers, something Becker says will make the temporary traffic detours worthwhile.
“It is an inconvenience that we’re not used to, but in the long run it’s going to be much better for our community,” said Becker.
Some residents of Sweetwater, like Gene Brooks, say they are not necessarily worried about the change, as traffic will now be detoured to State Highway 70 for westbound and eastbound traffic.
“Well, if they close it all the way down it might be rough for somebody, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll affect anything,” said Brooks.
An estimated 7-month process, is expected to lengthen a 5-minute commute to about 6 or 7 minutes instead. Becker says it will strengthen their capacity to meet growing customer needs in residential, commercial, and industrial construction.