Construction is set to begin next month at U.S. Highway 287 and Debbie Lane that will improve access at the intersection and reduce traffic congestion in the heavily traveled retail corridor.
While drivers are excited about the addition of a U-turn lane under the bridge on the south side of 287/Debbie Lane that will allow them to avoid the congested intersection, city traffic engineers say the work on entrance and exit ramps on U.S. 287 will have just as much impact on reducing traffic congestion at several intersections along the highway. The current ramp configuration is also not ideal for access to frontage road commercial businesses, said Public Works Director Bart VanAmburgh.
The $5.3 million in roadway improvements will not only add an exit to Debbie Lane from northbound U.S. 287, it will reconfigure the Walnut Creek on ramp. The Debbie Lane exit will be located at the site of the current 287/Walnut Creek Drive on ramp. The entrance ramp to northbound U.S. 287 from Walnut Creek will be moved farther north, closer to Debbie Lane.
“Drivers wanting access to the commercial development along the northbound frontage road will no longer have to exit at Walnut Creek,” VanAmburgh said. “That will reduce the amount of traffic at the Walnut Creek intersection. Drivers wanting to enter the ramp for northbound 287 will just travel a little farther down the frontage road before entering the freeway.”
Similar work will be done on the southbound side, although there will be no off ramp for Debbie Lane. The area between FM 157 and Debbie Lane cannot accommodate a specific Debbie Lane exit from southbound 287. However, the off ramp for Walnut Creek Drive is being moved north, closer to Debbie Lane.
“Drivers on the southbound side who want to access Home Depot and other retail will no longer have to exit on FM 157,” said David Boski, assistant director of public works and the city’s traffic engineer. “They can take the Walnut Creek exit, which will give them access to Home Depot Drive (located between Home Depot and Mansfield Pointe shopping center) as well as Mouser Way, which will soon be constructed to connect Main Street to 287.”
“What’s great about this project is that it accomplishes a lot in terms of reducing traffic congestion and improving flow around these important retail areas,” VanAmburgh said. “We’re reducing congestion along 287 at three major intersections: Walnut Creek Drive, Debbie Lane and 157.”
City engineers say that the short length of the U.S. 287 bridge over Debbie Lane only allows for one U-turn lane underneath the bridge. VanAmburgh said a plan to reconstruct the bridge and lengthen it – allowing for a U turn lane on the northbound side as well as additional lanes on Debbie – is likely five years away.
Crews have already begun preparing the area along the frontage roads for construction to begin. Some reconfiguration and reconstruction of driveways at commercial developments along the frontage roads are currently underway.
“There will be lane closures periodically during the construction,” Boski said. “They have already closed the left turn lane on the northbound frontage road at Debbie Lane. Traffic will be heavily congested during this time.”
The entire project is expected to be completed by April 2018, with the U turn scheduled to be finished in August of this year. The construction is part of the city’s street bond program with construction managed by TxDOT.