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Morriss Road project decision coming soon

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Morriss Road in Flower Mound. (Photo courtesy: Town of Flower Mound)

On the Flower Mound Town Council agenda for Monday, Feb. 5, is Phase II of the four-phase Morriss/Gerault Improvements road project. A large public attendance is expected.

The original project design was awarded back in 2009 to Halff Associates and was initially divided into two phases– first, as Gerault Road from the intersection with FM 2499 northward through the Lakeside Business District up to the intersection with FM 3040, where it becomes Morriss Road; then, from FM 3040 northward through residential developments up to its terminus at FM 407.

In 2011– after the first phase was completed– the initial second phase was divided into three-phases; each of which the Town Council will vote in two stages– award of design and award of the construction contract.

Now, Phase II is the stretch of road from FM 3040 northward to just past Garden Road. Included are: an additional northbound and additional southbound lane to be taken from the median; concrete panel replacement for areas where the pavement is failing; and, a water line replacement from Forest Vista to Garden Road, plus various Americans with Disability Act (ADA) improvements. This project is included in the 2017-2018 Capital Improvements Plan and is estimated to last approximately 12-months.

Town staff advised council members that a water line– to address capacity needs– and approximately one-half of the deteriorating concrete pavement panels need to be replaced. Combining the repairs with any lane-widening project will save the town at least $700,000.

“It’s an engineering issue and a logistic issue for the [town] staff,” said Town Manager Jimmy Stathatos. “It may be a political issue for some and for others it’s an emotional issue; and, we [staff] realize that. For us, it’s a traffic- and driver-safety issue.”

On Nov. 6, 2017, council unanimously voted to approve the water line design, but voted 4-2 to approve the Phase II design improvements– based on a new survey, future design results and public input.

This Monday, council is supposed to decide whether to award the construction contract. However, council members are still putting forth design options of their own.

“The engineering plans will update previous plans to reflect changes and improvements that have occurred since 2009,” said Council member Bryan Webb in November. “We requested staff to bring the updated plans to council for further discussion before they are sent out for bid.”

On Dec. 11, 2017, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bryant posted a statement on the Morriss/Gerault project, based on the January 2017 traffic study.

“It shows two peaks, at 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., between Forest Vista and FM 3040, northbound and southbound with the largest number at Forestwood Middle School. According to our SMARTGrowth policies, those are the only two time periods when Morriss Road has a level of service (LOS) below a ‘C.’”

On Jan. 15, Mayor Tom Hayden posted a statement on Phase II, which read, in part:

“Flower Mound has transportation problems and improving transportation is probably one of the greatest issues facing our Town.

“I am going to recommend to council we consider amending the Transportation Master Plan from being a Major Arterial to a Minor Arterial. This would keep Morriss a four-lane road.”

On Jan. 18, Webb and Mayor Pro Tem Don McDaniel posted a joint statement, from which excerpts include:

“Morriss Road fails SMARTGrowth in two locations; southbound at 3040 and between Fuqua and Garden.  These failures occur only during peak traffic hours, which are the morning commute and at drop-off and pick-up at Forestwood Middle School.  There are also ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance issues that must be addressed along the length of Morriss Road.

“As we looked closer at the situation, an obvious fact jumps up.  Southbound Morriss at 3040 already has three through lanes.  The design does not call for adding a fourth.  In plain language, southbound Morriss [Editor: actually Gerault] at 3040 is what it is.

“The section in front of Forestwood Middle School is different.  Many, probably most, residents who have sent emails discussed safety.  Safety is the overriding factor that we are considering.

“We believe that there is a solution to safety concerns that as an additional benefit could help ease congestion.  This solution adds one right turn lane along northbound Morriss beginning at Fuqua and extending north to Garden.

“Maybe that’s where we put the lane,” Webb wrote. “It would allow traffic to flow to the left.”

McDaniel proposed the additional lane would address possible future congestion near the school.

“There is talk from LISD about making Forestwood a STEM magnet school, and if that happens there will be people driving there from all over the district,” he wrote. (Editor: According to LISD spokesperson Liz Haas, Forestwood is not being considered for a STEM magnet school.)

Webb added the lane would give residents turning off Fuqua onto Morriss a protected lane to turn right. Visibility has been an issue at Fuqua and Morriss for years.

“No other sections are failing SMART Growth,” he wrote.

The [water] capacity improvements portion of the project is being funded utilizing SH 121 Regional Toll Revenue and Roadway Impact fees.  The panel replacement is being funded by sales tax revenue and the water line portion of the project is being funded with debt.

If the Town decides not to use the SH 121 Regional Toll Revenue for the Morriss/Gerault Improvement project, the designated funding will return to the region and projects from other local agencies and/or the State would compete for that funding.

Phase III is the stretch of road from just north of Garden Road northward to Eaton. The project continues possible north-and-southbound additional lanes to be expanded from the interior median; and, a water line replacement from Milford Road to Eaton Street. This project is included in the approved 2018-2019 Capital Improvements Plan.

The final Phase IV is the stretch of road from Eaton Street northward to FM 407 [Justin Road].

This phase provides for additional northbound and southbound lanes located in the interior median and a water line replacement. It is included in the approved 2019-2020 Capital Improvements Plan.

Phase I was completed in 2011 and included: additional lanes from FM 2499 to FM 3040; a flyover element and entryway monument at FM 2499; intersection and safety improvements along the entire corridor; new sidewalks; widening most existing sidewalks to six-feet; fencing along the entire corridor; and, landscaping for the entire corridor including approximately 600 trees and 400 shrubs.

So far, the mayor and two council members are against adding northbound and southbound lanes the length of Phase II.

Hopefully, Monday’s Town Council meeting will determine a final plan for this phase of the project.

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About The Author

Lyn Rejahl Pry

Lyn Pry is the Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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