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Northeast Times | January 31, 2023

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After more than a decade on the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ (NCTCOG) Transportation Improvement Plan, decisions about how to reconstruct SH 26/Colleyville Boulevard are still under consideration. A lack of funding for transportation projects at the state and federal levels, as well as construction problems in Phase I (Pool Road/Brumlow Avenue to south of John McCain Road), have hampered the project. In addition, funding amounts established in 1999 proved to be insufficient to cover reconstruction through Colleyville as originally designed, leading to a City Council decision to change the scope of the project from six lanes to four, to stretch the limited resources.

SH 26 is a state highway and the project is being administered by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The next phases of the project are anticipated to begin in 2015. Some of the biggest concerns are related to lane configurations, funding, and medians.

Four Lanes/Six Lanes
In 2013, the City Council voted to change the scope of the SH 26 project from six lanes, as originally designed, to four lanes, and shift funding to the section of road from Hall-Johnson Road to Brown Trail. This was done after consideration of a NCTCOG presentation that showed SH 26 traffic counts had not kept pace with projections done in 1999, when the project was first scheduled. The change in scope allowed for reconstruction through the central business district and the sections of the corridor where traffic volumes at intersections are highest. TxDOT agreed to accept the change.

According to NCTCOG, keeping a four-lane configuration, while constructing the intersections to their final configuration for six lanes, would be sufficient to handle current and future (through 2030 or later) traffic volumes. The change in scope stretched the allocated funds over a greater expanse of SH 26. The plan called for a wide median to allow for expansion to six lanes in the future, if traffic volumes warrant. Those lanes would be built inside the wide median to minimize disruption to drivers and businesses.

At the City Council meeting on Dec. 16, the Council passed a resolution to seek an agreement with TxDOT to build the roadway to six lanes from John McCain Road to Brown Trail, preferably in the initial reconstruction. The resolution further requests that the NCTCOG allocate the extra funding necessary for the additional lanes, which is estimated at $6 million.

At the same meeting, the City Council also voted to accept TxDOT’s turn-back funding option, called turn-back because it “turns back control of the road to the city.” This option does not require additional upfront capital from Colleyville to cover reconstruction costs. Under the turn-back option, TxDOT incurs all costs for reconstruction of SH 26 through Brown Trail, including a third phase that is currently unfunded (John McCain Road to Hall-Johnson Road). This third phase includes realigning Tinker Road and Oak Pointe Drive into a single signalized intersection. (An alternate funding option provided the capital for reconstruction of this phase, but required the city pay the costs for reconstruction upfront, with reimbursement from TxDOT over time­-up to 80% of the costs.)

Once reconstruction is completed, TxDOT will take SH 26 “off line” and the city will assume control of this section of the road, including decisions about speed limits, traffic lights, and street lighting. It would also assume costs for maintenance, anticipated to be about $90,000 for annual signal maintenance and $120,000 every 5-7 years for pavement marking maintenance. The turn-back funding option allows reconstruction of SH 26 through most of Colleyville.

Any reconstruction south of Brown Trail would necessitate coordination and shared funding responsibilities with Hurst, since the road traverses between the two cities.

More than 350 businesses are located on or adjacent to SH 26, making it the city’s primary business corridor. Some have expressed concerns about the impact of medians on businesses. SH 26 is a state road, so TxDOT controls the decision about medians. City leaders have asked about lifting the state’s mandate on medians for SH 26, but the state has declined to do so, citing safety concerns. According to TxDOT, all new projects with 20,000 or more vehicles per day require medians and note that medians improve safety and reduce overall crashes, including the worst kind of crashes-head-on collisions, by at least 40%.

Next Steps
The city’s resolutions regarding building SH 26 to six lanes and accepting the turn-back funding option will go to the NCTCOG for review and funding decisions. Once the City Council and city staff receive a response from the NCTCOG, the Council will likely revisit the SH 26 project for a final decision by the city. Changes to the project scope are still subject to approval by TxDOT.