Kids eating snow cones. Adults peeling crawfish. And Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" blaring over the loudspeakers. This wasn't any old spring shindig.
On April 14, residents in Prosper held a rally to protest the proposed Segment B option for the U.S. Highway 380 bypass. As a show of solidarity, they wore shirts and hats emblazoned with the town's name and logo. They listened to speeches, and they expressed their concerns. "No one hired us to do this," Gretchen Darby, one of the Protect Prosper Pep Rally organizers, told Local Profile. "We're doing this because we care about our town."
Explosive Collin County growth has meant more people and more traffic, and the Texas Department of Transportation is mulling over five proposed options to alleviate congestion. In Prosper, the proposed Segment B, which would cut through the southeast quadrant of town, is causing controversy, while in neighboring McKinney, Segment A, which would run through residential areas, businesses and natural wetlands, is also a source of contention.
Both Prosper and McKinney can point to how each would be changed. Officials and residents in Prosper say Segment B will not only divide the community, but will impact home values and cause lost revenue. According to the City of McKinney, Segment A is not only longer than Segment B, but it's also more expensive and costs an additional $98.8 million.
The Prosper Pep Rally, complete with pom-poms and chants, aimed to mobilize residents to show their opposition in a TxDOT feedback survey.
"We want everyone's voice heard," State Senator Drew Springer, one of the speakers at the event, told Local Profile. "Because it does move the needle." Senator Springer pointed out how an outpouring of opposition kept Collin County bow-hunting only. Here, the goal for Prosper residents is to preserve what they call a small-town feel. But that town is certainly getting bigger.
"I moved here from Dallas in 2004," said Town Councilman Marcus Ray. At that time, Prosper had a population of 2,400 people. Since then, it's grown to an estimated 32,000, with waiting lists to move in and new schools opening each year.
What brought us here were the schools," said Ray. "What kept us here was the community." That, he said, would change with the proposed Segment B.
"Segment B would impact the look and the feel of Prosper for generations," said Ray, adding that not only would the bypass increase traffic, but divide the town. ManeGait, the town's non-profit equine therapy, could also be negatively impacted by the expanded bypass.
The proposed U.S. Highway 380 project has even pitted some in the two communities against each other—online, at least.
"There is some negativity between McKinney and Prosper on social media," said Kari Willis, one of the pep rally organizers, in her speech. "But we're not about that. And are we mad at TxDOT? No, we're mad at Segment B."
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