By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
The Texas Department of Transportation has created a proposed short-term and long-term scenario to reduce traffic congestion on RM 620, as part of the RM 620 Feasibility Study, a $650,000 study launched by TxDOT in early 2015 and is expected to conclude in early summer.
The study is focusing on the 18.8-mile segment of RM 620 from SH 71W to US 183N by breaking the roadway into six sections and evaluating each section individually.
“Each area requires a different response,” said Bruce Byron, TxDOT project manager. “We’re trying to customize the options based on what’s most feasible for that area.”
To get input on the stretch of RM 620 between Mansfield Dam and Anderson Mill Road, TxDOT has been meeting with a working group made up of representatives from the Four Points Neighborhood Coalition, which formed in early 2015 and represents nine neighborhood groups in Four Points, as well as representatives from the Four Points Chamber of Commerce and business community.
“The Four Points community and our surrounding neighbors are painfully aware of the need to identify and implement significant improvements for the RM 620 corridor,” said Brian Thompto, chairman of the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association and a member of the working group. “We need to move from talking about traffic to solving traffic issues along the RM 620 corridor. This TxDOT study will lay the groundwork for real solutions and enable the detailed planning to start.”
Under TXDOT’s short-term scenario, interim improvements would include a four-lane divided road between Mansfield Dam and Marshall Ford. Ultimately, a six-lane divided road would be built between Marshall Ford and Pecan Park.
While this scenario would improve traffic flow at some intersections such as Comanche Trail and Quinlan Park Road, it would not have any improve traffic flow at intersections such as RM 620 and RM 2222, according to TXDOT.
In addition to the divided roadways, Byron said TXDOT is looking at two intersection improvement projects which could likely be done even sooner. The first is the Four Points Connector Project, which would create a new bypass road for the RM 620/FM 2222 intersection.
“(The bypass project) is the one that’s further along and the highest priority,” Byron said. “It would make a significant difference in the effectiveness of the 620/2222 intersection performance.”
The bypass project would also include the creation of an additional left turn lane at FM 2222 and McNeil Drive and additional through lanes at FM 2222 and River Place Boulevard. Byron said the bypass project is currently in the environmental review process and no construction funding has yet been identified.
Thompto said the bypass project is a very positive step.
“We are all eager to see the mid-term term improvements already planned for the 620/2222 intersection – which include expanding RM 2222 through River Place and splitting the 620/2222 intersection into two parts,” Thompto said. “We need to build on this important step and put together a comprehensive plan that will allow the RM 620 corridor to thrive and handle TxDOT’s projections for significant traffic growth in the coming decade.”
Other intersection improvements such as the expansion of the intersection of RM 620 and Anderson Mill Road would also be considered.
TxDOT’s long-term scenario includes building four elevated managed lanes between U.S. 183 and RM 2222, effectively extending SH 45 to RM 2222.
“The elevated section is proposed because one of the limitations to this study was to stay within existing right of way,” Byron said. “The right of way is very restricted in many areas and generally about 130-150 feet in width in sections 2 and 3 (which include Four Points).”
The long-term scenario also includes direct connectors, also known as flyovers, at the RM 620/RM 2222 intersection and elevated lanes.
“These would likely be followed by upgrading the five-lane cross section with a six-lane divided roadway from Quinlan Park Road to US 183,” Byron said. “If additional lanes are considered, a separate study would look at whether an elevated, expanded right-of-way at grade or alternate route would be most appropriate.”
Byron noted that neither the short-term or long-term scenario has a set timeline as both are contingent on funding. They are also still just proposals at this point.
“We’re looking for public comment on how the public feels about these proposals,” he said.
The short-term and long-term scenarios were created in response to a TxDOT community survey. According to TXDOT, 2,131 survey responses had been received as of Sept. 18, 2015. Approximately 70 percent of respondents said they live along the RM 620 corridor.
Survey responses have come from 69 unique zip codes and roughly 57 percent of respondents say they travel along RM 620 several times a day. About 19 percent of respondents said they have been involved in a traffic crash on RM 620.
Survey respondents were asked to rank which intersections had the most significant mobility problems. The intersection of RM 620 and FM 2222/Bullock Hollow Road came in first, with more than 60 percent of respondents naming it as the worst intersection. On a scale of A-F, that intersection is currently rated an F, according to a working group that looked at traffic volumes, travel speed, travel times and levels of service. F ratings indicate heavy congestion and delays and long queues. The intersection of RM 620 and Anderson Mill Road was named as the second worst. It also has an F rating.
Those interested can still fill out the RM 620 survey by visiting www.surveymonkey.com/s/620study.
To get community input, TxDOT’s draft scenarios have been shown to a limited number of community leaders and stakeholders in Four Points who live and work along the congested roadway.
“Small groups are much more productive as far as good feedback,” Byron said.
Thompto said the Four Points working group has been working on a set of questions and requests to present to TxDOT at an upcoming meeting in January, at which several local elected officials are also planning to attend.
“Specific requests have included inclusion of RM 2222 from RM 620 through McNeil in the RM 620 planning process, as well as a request to implement intelligent traffic signaling along the corridor in the near term,” Thompto said.
For more information on the 620 Feasibility Study, visit www.620study.com.