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FM 407 to get new stoplights

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With an estimated 24,000 cars driving along FM 407 daily and major development on the horizon, adding two traffic lights couldn’t be timelier.

Denton County is planning to add two additional traffic lights to FM 407 next to Lantana, including one at McMakin Road/Blanco Drive and another at Simmons Road, said Denton County Precinct 4 Commissioner Andy Eads.

Construction recently started on a new 120,000-square-foot Kroger across from Lantana, which is expected to draw people across the region. The store is a new model for the grocery chain, which typically has a smaller footprint, Eads said.

The Lantana Town Center shopping center also will sport other retail stores, adding the potential for more traffic on the busy east-west thoroughfare. Plans for commercial development across from the shopping center are also on the books, Eads said.

“We’ve been working with the developers since they first bought the property to do traffic projections,” he said.  The McMakin/Blanco light is expected to be completed by March 2015 before the center is expected to be open for business.

County officials are also planning a traffic light at the intersection of Simmons and FM 407, which is proposed to be operating by May 2015.

Simmons has been extended north from FM 407 into Lantana to connect Double Oak with the new Dorothy P. Adkins Elementary School that opens this month.

While county officials get requests for additional traffic lights, they must pass a series of qualifications to be considered and submitted to the Texas Department of Transportation. Mobility is considered as well as safe access from side roads when deciding where to install traffic lights, Eads said. The lights are among the final items in the ongoing two-year project to expand FM 407 from FM 2499 to FM 1830. The last addition to the corridor will be landscaping, he said.

Focus has been on the southwest portion of Denton County where an estimated 200,000 of the county’s 770,000 total population now live due to the projected growth in Lantana, the Harvest development at FM 407 and Interstate 35W, Canyon Falls at Hwy 377 and FM 1171 as well as commercial development throughout the region.

Each traffic light costs about $200,000, Eads said, adding they are funded by the TxDOT Dallas District.

“We will work to make sure they are synchronized with existing lights to improve mobility and traffic flow,” he said.

The lights also will create gaps within the traffic flow to allow drivers from side streets to enter FM 407 a little more easily, Eads said.

“When you signalize intersections, it creates openings in the traffic flow.”

Lantana General Manager Kevin Mercer told fresh water district board members at the August meeting that he has asked TxDOT for stoplights on FM 407 at the Rayzor Road and Branch Crossing intersections but there is no timeline on the approval of those signals.

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