By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Traffic is expected to flow better in the Four Points area after the Texas Department of Transportation spends more than $37 million to overhaul the intersection of RM 2222 and Loop 360 to create a diverging diamond.
In addition, a new underpass at nearby Courtyard Drive near the Pennybacker Bridge will go in and the signal lights removed.
“Construction is expected to begin mid-2023,” said Brad Wheelis, a TxDOT spokesperson. “Construction is expected to take 2-3 years to complete for the RM 2222/Courtyard Drive project.”
These changes are part of the Loop 360 project where nine intersections will be upgraded and improved along the 14-mile stretch, running from US 183 to US 290/SH 71.
“The estimated cost for the entire program is $250 million,” Wheelis said.
The reasons behind the Loop 360 project are to increase mobility and safety: getting motorists to their destinations safely at the same time, cutting down drive time. “Unless something is done, traffic conditions will worsen as our population grows,” TxDOT’s fact sheet states.
The first Loop 360 project to undergo construction will be Westlake Drive and that is expected to begin in early 2022, Wheelis said.
Other Loop 360 project intersections include: Spicewood Springs Road, Lakewood Drive, Walsh Tarlton Lane, Lost Creek Boulevard/Westbank Drive, and RM 2244
For the RM 2222/Courtyard Drive project, the project is estimated to cost between $37 million to $39 million, depending on which of the two design options TxDOT proceeds with.
It will also add a shared-use path and sidewalks within the project limits to improve bicycle and pedestrian areas.
“Approximately 49,200 vehicles on the mainlanes of Loop 360 pass through the RM 2222 interchange and the Courtyard Drive intersection on a daily basis,” Wheelis said. “Approximately 48,000 vehicles are using RM 2222 (at the Loop 360 intersection) daily.”
The RM 2222/Loop 360 diverging diamond is supposed to create “free-flowing” traffic, reduce crash points and help those making left turns. It moves traffic to the opposite side of the roadway.
TxDOT hosted an open house on March 7 at Riverbend Church. More details are available at www.loop360project.com and a survey is available to fill out online for feedback until March 22.
Diverging diamonds are becoming more popular. The first diverging diamond opened a decade ago in Missouri.
Diverging diamond intersections are proposed for intersections with a high volume of left-turning traffic. They allow vehicles to travel more quickly through an intersection by temporarily shifting traffic to the left side of the road. This allows through-traffic and left-turning traffic to proceed through the intersection simultaneously, eliminating the need for a left-turn arrow, TxDOT explains.
TxDOT likes this traffic flow design because of its low construction cost and relatively short time to build.
Other places TxDOT is planning to have diverging diamonds are: Parmer Lane and I-35 and one on Bee Cave Road.