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Upgraded road opens

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A stretch of Copper Canyon Road which has been closed for construction since December reopened on Friday ahead of schedule.

The project to rebuild the northern section of the road between Old Alton and Hickory Hill Road was scheduled to open just prior to school starting. Denton ISD opens its doors on Aug. 23.

“Funding for this project came from our recent bond election and I am pleased that the project cost less than expected, and is ahead of schedule,” said Andy Eads, Denton County Commissioner, Pct. 4.  

“I am appreciative to all the residents that patiently tolerated the detours while this project became a reality. We planned for the road to be closed during the summer, which is when the road is traveled the least. This minimized any detours for school buses and students.”

Eads said that this was a unique project because of the construction of the roadway in an area historically significant which also has a high volume of bicycle traffic.

Steps were taken to address three goals: improving the safety to the traveling public, preserving the historic stagecoach trail area, and also converting the old roadway to a trail for bicyclists.  The incline on the new roadway is steep, so the county converted the old roadway to a bicycle trail. 

“This is a scenic landmark for people in this part of Denton County, and we are pleased to have it used by the cycling enthusiasts,” said Eads  “This is a safer alternative for the riders and the motorists.”

This part of Denton County has an abundance of history, Eads said.

The first county seat was just a couple hundred yards from the road’s location at the Alton Community.  It is estimated that the trail began around 1845, and once established by the postal service, was used by everyone until around 1875. 

Called a Star Route by the postal service, the road went to the then Denton County seat in Old Alton near the current Guyer High school area, crossing Hickory Creek and heading South to Tarrant County, making stops in Birdville and Birds Fort located on the western fork of the Trinity River.

“We currently have members of the Denton County Historic Commission investigating this area in more detail and we look forward to perhaps placing a historic marker here,”  said Eads.

Highlights of the new road design includes:

– Existing asphalt road was approximately 21-feet wide, and new concrete road is 24-feet wide.

– The road was designed around the very dangerous curve half way between Old Alton and Hickory Hill Road.  This previous curve, now protected by a fence, was turned into a bike trail to help bikers navigate the steep grade going up the hill as well as to maintain the scenic area and historic location.

– Several sharp curves and site visibility issues were resolved with the project.  This includes the curve near Old Alton, the site visibility issues at the dangerous curve, the connection from Old Alton to Copper Canyon Road, and several other places.

– The new road could not be elevated out of the floodplain of Lake Lewisville due to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers restrictions.  However, it was elevated approximately 1.5-feet between Old Alton and Old Alton Road Bridge, and will lessen the amount of flooding along the roadway.  However, the roadway can still be flooded if Hickory Creek exceeds its banks, or if Lake Lewisville’s elevation exceeds the 531-foot storage level (100-yr flood elevation of Lake Lewisville is 537-feet).

– The connection to Hickory Hill Road and the railroad crossing was not included in this project due to constraints with the railroad.  This portion will be included in the next Copper Canyon Road project from FM 407 to Hickory Hill Road.  This section is scheduled to begin construction in 2011 and will include a quite zone railroad crossing.

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