TxDOT SH26 Reconstruction Project - Public Forum Presentation

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The following presentation was given at a public forum on the SH26 Reconstruction Project conducted by the City of Colleyville on Nov. 12, 2014. It is provided here for those citizens and/or businesses that were unable to be present, and for further review by any citizens that were present. The forum, in its entirety, can also be viewed here through the city's webcast system.

If you have any comments on the project or the public forum, please email them to 26@colleyville.com.

 

Our purpose tonight is threefold:  to bring you up to date on the status of work being done between John McCain Road and the Pool/Brumlow intersection; to share with you a couple of options for paying for the unfunded section of the project, between Hall-Johnson and John McCain roads; and to get your input on future phases of the project.  If you have any comments you would like to share about the project, please include them on your comment cards or send an email to 26@Colleyville.com.  All of your written comments will be shared with TxDOT and the City Council.

There are several participants, or partners, in this project.  It is a TxDOT project.  The state of Texas owns the highway and the Texas department of Transportation is responsible for operating and maintaining the road.  

Most of the funding for the reconstruction project comes from the Federal Highway Administration.

Our regional planning organization is the North Central Texas Council of Governments, often referred to as the COG.  They’re responsible for prioritizing transportation projects in the region and allocating federal funds for those projects.  The group at COG that does that is the Regional Transportation Council – a committee of about 40 elected and appointed officials from across the region.  To be eligible for federal dollars, a transportation project must first be placed on the regional transportation improvement plan by the RTC.  Once that happens the project competes for funding with other projects in the region. 

On this project, Tarrant County contributed funds for Phase I of the project to bring it into Colleyville.  And the City of Colleyville also contributed funds for Phase I of the project.

In 1999, the Council of Governments (COG) issued a call for projects.  At that time city staff and Councilmembers worked with them to get the Colleyville portion of Highway 26 included in the regional transportation plan to secure federal and state funding.

In December 2001, an advisory committee, composed primarily of business owners along the corridor, was appointed by the City Council. In subsequent years, there were numerous meetings and discussions about the project, including a discussion about placing overhead utilities underground.  In 2005, the City held a bond election that included a proposition to bury overhead power lines.  That proposal was not approved by the voters. 

In 2005, TxDOT received environmental clearance for the project – this allowed them to complete the design. In 2011, funding was secured for Phase I, which is currently under construction.

Later in 2005, TxDOT opened bids for the project and a contract was awarded to AUI, which began construction in July 2012.  However, construction was delayed while franchise utilities, like gas and electric, were relocated. 

In 2013, the city awarded a contract to begin relocating our water and sewer lines for the balance of the project, anticipating Phase II construction would begin in 2014. 

In September 2013, the Council of Governments made a presentation to City Council that showed a four-lane road, with improved intersection capacities would accommodate current and future traffic volumes, until at least 2030. At the same presentation, COG informed the City Council that the worst congestion was occurring at the intersections between Hall-Johnson Road and Brown Trail—making a case that the available funding would have greater impact in reducing congestion if it were shifted to this section, known as Phase II.

As you know, the section from the Pool/Brumlow intersection to just south of John McCain Road is now under construction.  The section between John McCain and Hall Johnson roads has been designed and all the right-of-way has been acquired by TxDOT.   However, at this time there is no identified funding for construction.  I’ll talk more about that in a minute.  

The southern section, from Hall Johnson Road to Brown Trail, is designed, the right-of-way is acquired, and all of the funding needed to construct it is in place.  

We’ll go into more detail on the four-lane configuration later in the presentation, but I do want to explain that the design is for four-lanes now with a design option—that being the center median—that allows two additional lanes, if warranted at some future point.  So any future lane construction inside the median could be accomplished with minimal disruption to traffic or business. However, intersections will be built out to the six-lane configuration during the Phase II construction that should start next year. 

At this time there are no plans to improve the section south of Brown Trail, half of which is located in the City of Hurst. 

Here is a brief update on Phase I.

As we all know, this phase of the project got off to a slow start.  TxDOT recognized this and has now taken steps to modify the contract to incentivize the contractor, AUI, to finish as quickly as possible.  You may have noticed that AUI is now working on weekends. They plan to extend their work hours even longer in the near future.  The incentive for early completion declines daily from March 31 to June 10.  At that time, significant penalties will accrue for each day that the contractor fails to complete this phase. 

Now a bit about Phase II – between Hall Johnson Road and Brown Trail. 

This section of the road is funded by federal and state dollars.  As I mentioned earlier, it will be constructed with four lanes, a wide median, and most major intersections will be built to a six-lane configuration to ease intersection congestion.  Plans for this phase are complete and have been sent to the TxDOT headquarters in Austin for final review and approval. 

The change in the project scope from six lanes to four has been the subject of much discussion. If you’ll remember on the project history that I went through earlier, in October 2013, COG made a presentation to the City Council showing that traffic projections first developed in 1999 had not materialized.  Traffic volumes on Highway 26 were indeed flat or falling.  

We’ll go through that traffic analysis in a moment, but it was this information, coupled with the realization that funds dedicated in 1999, rather than completing road reconstruction through Colleyville, had not kept pace with rising construction cost and now would only extend the reconstruction project from John McCain Road to Hall-Johnson Road, at best—keeping it just short of reaching the Colleyville central business district.  Those were the driving factors behind the Council’s decision to reduce the number of lanes from six to four, expand the intersection capacity at most major intersections to reduce congestion and attain better traffic flow, and finally allow for expansion to six lanes, if warranted at some point in the future. That expansion would happen in the median—where there is room to add two lanes—and at that point, the median would simply become more narrow. 

Those decisions allowed the City Council to stretch the allocated funds so that reconstruction could be accomplished over the largest section of the city—including our central business district.

Currently, Phase II is scheduled to be advertised later this year, with a bid opening sometime this winter.  To better facilitate the logistics of Phase II, TxDOT has hired a mobility coordinator – who is NOT a TxDOT employee – to serve as a liaison between the project team and the property and business owners along the corridor.   His name is Stephen Ranft and he is here tonight.  In addition, the District Engineer will be meeting monthly with the city manager and key city staff to keep us abreast of any issues and to ensure the project stays on schedule. 

At this time I’ll briefly touch on traffic as it relates to the configuration of the road.  At the City’s request, the transportation staff at the regional Council of Government’s did an analysis of current and future traffic volumes, with respect to the traffic volume capacity of SH26.  They used three different methodologies, including a traffic simulation model, and came up with the same conclusion each time – that a four-lane, divided road, with improved intersections would reduce congestion and improve safety.

These are the actual traffic counts on Highway 26 in Colleyville over the past few years.  This data was collected by TxDOT.

This chart shows peak-hour traffic volumes for 2013, along with projected peak-hour volumes for 2018, 2028 and 2035, respectively.  The green horizontal line is the capacity of a four- lane, divided suburban roadway, which is 3700 cars per hour.  You can see that the projections for the next several years show that, during peak traffic periods, a four-lane road can sustain the anticipated traffic volumes.   The City will be collecting traffic data annually and updating these projections over time. (Note: This slide was updated on Dec. 1, 2014.)

 

 (Note: This slide was updated on Dec. 1, 2014.)

We have already received a lot of input about the center median. TxDOT is on record that the road will not be reconstructed without a median. According to TxDOT, numerous studies by independent agencies have shown that medians do improve safety and significantly reduce accidents.

This is a rendering of the landscape design for the northern section of the road.  The City has received two green ribbon grants for landscaping from TxDOT that do not require any city matching funds.  Portions of the medians will be irrigated, but with drip irrigation only, as TxDOT does not allow any other type in the medians.

Now let’s take a look at Phase III-from John McCain Road to Hall-Johnson Road.

The design, similar to the rest of the project—four lanes with the ability to add two additional lanes, if warranted in the future, is complete and all right-of-way has been acquired. This would also include improving the intersections at Tinker Road and at Oak Pointe Drive to create a single signalized intersection. 

And, again, to be clear, just like in Phase II, if additional lanes are added, they would be accommodated inside the median. In Phases II and III, the road is being built out to its final width now.  It would not be widened to make room for additional lanes, it’s being built out to its full width with these plans. Any additional construction would take place inside the wide median that is part of the current design. 

This phase of the project is currently not funded, but in a moment, I’ll present two funding options that are being considered for funding this section of State Highway 26. 

Before I move on to funding options, I wanted to show you a schematic of a reconstructed intersection that would improve access to Oak Pointe and the overall safety of the intersection. 

Now on to funding… 

TxDOT has a program called “pass through,” whereby the local jurisdiction pays for the construction up front.  Then, over time, a city gets reimbursed for those construction costs—up to a maximum of 80%.  This is one option being considered to fund reconstruction of Phase III, between John McCain and Hall Johnson roads. 

For several months City staff and TxDOT, at the request of City Council, has been working to develop terms for a possible pass-through funding option for this phase.  The pass-through provisions would allow for Colleyville’s reimbursement to take about 12 years, based on actual vehicle counts. 

Assuming the worst case scenario of a $12 million dollar cost for construction, the City would be reimbursed up to $9.6 million dollars over time.  

Please note that if this funding option is selected under the terms laid out here, there would be no increase in property taxes to pay for it. 

The second funding option is called a “turn back.” 

This is a program that TxDOT introduced last year in which TxDOT turns back non-controlled-access state highways to the cities in which they are located. The cities then assume ownership and maintenance of the roadways.  The program is voluntary and city staff has initiated informal discussions with TxDOT to explore if TxDOT would fully fund Phase III reconstruction in exchange for the City taking over the road when reconstruction is complete. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to the turn back program.  

For the first time, Colleyville would control what happens on Highway 26, as long as it is consistent with sound engineering and safety guidelines.  

But we would also assume responsibility for all operational and maintenance costs, including traffic signals, signs and pavement markings, and pavement maintenance and repair.  Also, at some future date, it may be necessary to add two lanes, IF traffic volumes warrant such an action.  It is estimated that in today’s dollars the cost to add two lanes by reducing the width of the median is approximately $5 million for the entire section between John McCain Road and Brown Trail.

The estimated costs for different aspects of ownership are listed here.  These are in today’s dollars. 

As to adding future lanes, the road would be reconstructed with 10” of steel-reinforced concrete on top of a heavily stabilized road base, which should last in excess of 30 years before any major maintenance is required. 

Phase IV would continue reconstruction of the road south, from Brown Trail to the southern city limits.

This section is not currently funded or scheduled for reconstruction. In this section, about half of the road is in Colleyville and the other half is Hurst, so the city of Hurst would need to be included as a partner and participant in any discussion about the potential for a Phase IV.

As Jennifer stated earlier, if you have comments on any of the information presented here tonight—but especially the funding options for Phase III, from John McCain Road to Hall-Johnson Road, please include them on your comment cards. Again, we will be sharing those with the City Council and with TxDOT. 

We thank you for your time and interests this evening. 

At this time I will turn the mic over to Nancy Farrar who will facilitate the question and answer session.  If you have a question or comment to make, please come to the microphone, and if you would please state your name before asking your question, that would be most appreciated. 

PLEASE SUBMIT COMMENTS ON THE TxDOT SH 26 RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT TO 26@Colleyville.com.