There was a hint of hostility in the air at the quarterly Interurban Networking Lunch on Thursday, Dec. 22 as Chamber members from Anna, Melissa, Van Alstyne and Howe met at the Hurricane Creek Golf Course.
After a few members made snide comments about the ongoing construction in and around the area, TxDOT Engineer Brenan Honey said he was there to clear the air. “I come in peace,” Honey said to the crowd.
Honey said he understands the frustration about the continuous construction along Highway 75. “This is our ninth project along the Highway 75 corridor,” Honey said. “I went to the very first meeting on the initial project in 2002.”
One of the delays comes from the budget slotted for the job, Honey said. “We are trying our best to manage a low bid contract.”
Not only is there construction on the Highway 75 corridor, the construction has spilled over onto Highway 121. Honey said one of the issues is rerouting traffic in the difficult intersections. “We are trying to switch the traffic in front of the Racetrack,” Honey said, “but it is hard to accomplish due to the heavy traffic flow.”
Honey said the traffic switch is close to completion, yet, it is lacking the center line stripe. “It needs the center stripe, but it is too wet now. The plans are for the intersection to be an at-grade intersection, and possibly adding the bridge back,” Honey said. “An at-grade intersection is where the roads are built up on the intersections, as to not disrupt the flow.”
Honey said that although it seems to last forever, there is an end in sight. “The contractor quoted for 121 to be complete by Dec. 18, with the majority being completed by summer. We hope to be paving toward Anna early 2018.”
The plans are to include a stop light on Highway 5 and the Racetrack, Honey said.
Honey then updated the guests on the bane of every residents’ existence, Highway 75 and FM 455. “That is our biggest project,” Honey said. “It is 48-percent completed, and it is on time and on budget.”
“Eventually, we’re going to pull that exit back south approximately 2000 feet. We’re also going to run a signal warrant analysis to try and get stoplights in front of Walmart,” Honey said.
Honey said that FM 455 will be done in two phases, and it is important that one company does both. “We want a company to see the progression through,” Honey said.
It is paramount that Highway 121 becomes a divided highway, Honey said. “Highway 121 needs to be a divided highway. If it’s the last thing I do, that will happen.”
Honey said two factors can slow down construction progress, utilities and funding. “Utilities usually slow down the progress, there aren’t many places utilities can go.”
Although utilities and funding can be difficult, cooperation can make things run smoother, Honey said. “The cities worked with us when it came to utilities,” Honey said. “Collin County has been a great ally with getting the funds.”