The Concord Road widening project has been a work in progress since 1997, but in the next year, Public Works director Patrick Donart says the city hopes to have the project underway.
The one-and-a-half mile stretch between E. Lucas and Highway 105 has been in dire need of expansion for years because of the amount of traffic that uses the roadway.“Based on the volume of traffic that travels Concord on an everyday basis, the numbers indicate a four-lane roadway is needed,” Donart said. “Drivers have to be more cautious as opposed to other city streets. As far as volume is concerned, essentially we have enough traffic to fill a four-lane roadway stuffed to two lanes.”
In October 1997, it was added to the city’s Capital Improvement program and listed as “Other Projects for Future Consideration.” And in 2003, the city entered into an agreement to receive over $7.5 million from the Federal Highway Administration and Texas Department of Transportation for Concord Road. The remaining cost of the $21 million project will be funded through the city’s capital program and the sale of bonds for capital improvement projects.
After approving an agreement with the two entities, the project was marked as a current project, a design of the project was created, and an anticipated start date of 2007 was projected. The design increased the lanes from two to four and added sidewalks for pedestrians.
But as drivers have noticed, the project did not start in 2007 and has yet to begin, but Donart said that’s caused by red tape that has to be sorted through before anything can get started.
“When working with these agencies, everything has to be approved by both organizations,” he said. It wasn’t until 2009 that the city received approval from TxDOT for the environmental assessment and the schematic design for the project. But that was just one hurdle.
“There was legislation that was passed in Washington that ordered bike lanes,” Donart said. “We did a feasibility analysis – which is a cost-benefit ratio – to see if we should pursue the federal funding.”
The city decided to move forward to get the federal funding and Donart said the city should be done with revisions to the design by the middle of March, at which time it will be sent for review by TxDOT.
The new design will include room on the outer lanes for a bicycle lane, much like the lanes along the completed portions of Calder Avenue.
In preparation of the expansion, the city has spent the last weeks acquiring 61 plats of land along Concord for the project, and bonds for funding have already been sold. If the City Council approves the acquisition of properties slated for the Tuesday, March 8, agenda, there will be about 20 plats left for the city to purchase, which puts them on track for a July 1 deadline.
Donart said the city mayseek bids for the widening around February 2012 if everything goes according to plan. He also said one issue that is favoring the city’s efforts is the fact that there is less construction taking place, so bids the city has received are more competitive as of late.
“The climate has changed. When we would go out for bids a few years ago, we would get four or five back (from contractors). Now when we have go out for bids, we will get eight to a dozen,” he said. “There is less development going on so when we go out for bid, we will get several back and they’re all competing, so prices are coming in lower.”Construction is expected to last more than a year, and in that time there will be some major alterations to the roadway, which will see the movement of some utility poles to make room for the new lanes and sidewalks. Where Concord curves near Sienna Trails will also see a facelift when the curve is straightened and a new bridge is constructed. Donart said it is not anticipated the roadway will be closed while undergoing construction, but there will be delays.