By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Texas Department of Transportation officials gave updates this week on the RM 2222 widening project and the bypass project that will connect RM 620 with RM 2222. The two projects — totalling $36.2 million — are expected to be complete by fall 2020.
“It is progressing well with an anticipated October 2020 completion,” said Victor Vargas, area engineer with TxDOT. He addressed some 20 attendees of the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association meeting held at Towne Square Community Center on June 25.
Area residents asked questions and looked over maps on the two TxDOT projects that will help alleviate traffic congestion in Four Points.
“This has been a collaborative effort,” said Brian Thompto, SRNA chairman. “A lot of steps have been taken since 2012 (with the creation of SRNA) to advance traffic priorities along the corridor.”
The $23.6 million RM 2222 widening project went out to bid a year ago, July 2018. Capital Excavation Company started construction in November. The project will cost $18 million for the roadway construction and $5.7 million to move and realign utilities.
The RM 2222 widening is called project 1 and will add a third lane to eastbound RM 2222 from Bonaventure Drive to Sitio Del Rio Boulevard and westbound from Ribelin Ranch Drive to Sitio Del Rio Boulevard. A center median with dedicated turn lanes will also be constructed within the project limits.
To help with traffic flow, there will be two lanes open the entire time during the RM 2222 widening project and the center turn lane will be sacrificed, Vargas said.
Construction of the bypass road is called project 2 and it will go out to bid in a few days this July.
“Three months from there, in the fall time frame, we’ll be starting to turn dirt,” Vargas said.
Construction on the estimated $12.6 million bypass road project is expected to begin around October and be complete by March 2020.
Project 2 will create the actual bypass connector road which will run along transmission lines between RM 620 and RM 2222. That portion of the project will add two lanes both westbound and eastbound and new signal lights at the intersections.
Before the bypass road project is finished, there will be an added lane from the Steiner Ranch Boulevard area to the new bypass connector road.
RM 620/ RM 2222 intersection
One right-turn, southeast bound lane from RM 2222 to RM 620 has been blocked for more than two weeks for utility work. It will be that way next week as well.
“AT&T is doing work at the intersection. They are expected to complete their work by the end of next week,” said Brad Wheelis, TxDOT spokesperson.
Long waits at Sitio Del Rio
Kim Tagge asked TxDOT officials about the intersection at Sitio Del Rio Boulevard and RM 2222. She said traffic builds up and backs up there during peak times and motorists can wait for 20 minutes or more to get through the light.
Vargas said he would look into that situation.
Two right, two left lanes at McNeil
Ultimate plans also call for two right-turn and two left-turn lanes at the McNeil Drive and RM 2222 intersection. Currently there are three lanes – left, right, and center.
Since Vandegrift and Four Points Middle School traffic backs up significantly during the school year, a resident raised the question about dedicating two right-turn lanes as soon as possible, before the project is completed. Vargas said he would look into that possibility.
Installing trunk under 2222
“One of the bigger issues is water runoff which peaks uphill at River Place (Boulevard and RM 2222),” Vargas said.
Plans call for a very large trunk system to be installed below the center of RM 2222 from the highest peak, just west of River Place Boulevard, to approximately 500 feet down Bullick Hollow. This is approximately a one-mile long stretch where the trunk will take outflow water off the road.
“It is a hurdle to overcome on the Bullick Hollow portion,” Vargas said. “It looks great two dimensionally on paper.”
The trunk will carry rainwater and runoff to the outfall near Bullick Hollow which will be some 15 feet or more high, he said.
The trunk line will vary in size. At the outfall, it will be 7 foot by 4 foot, then the line changes to 6 foot by 3 foot, and then continues to decrease in size as River Place is approached.
The entire construction time to construct the trunk line from the outfall on Bullick Hollow to RM 620 is 18 working days, TxDOT officials said.
“It is substantial, a pretty big hurdle,” Vargas said.
When the trunk construction gets to the intersection at RM 2222 and RM 620, left turn lanes will be closed. Plans would be to reroute traffic to Comanche Trail near Oasis Texas. Also by then it is planned that the bypass is expected to be ready for use.
TxDOT will send out notices ahead of time to update the community, businesses and emergency services prior to the beginning of this portion of the project since traffic will be rerouted.
TxDOT has built incentives into the budget for Capital Excavation Company to finish early or on time and penalties if construction is delayed, Vargas said.
Traffic signal timing
SRNA’s Thompto asked TxDOT officials multiple times about the timing of traffic signals for relief now, and for future timing, after both projects are complete.
“We all want it to be brilliantly controlled. Today those lights are not sophisticated enough to deal with the traffic on the ground,” Thompto said. Looking ahead, he encouraged TxDOT to put in the most advanced system available for all current and future signals to be timed properly so that all of the new roads and intersections can be in sync.