Every town council member has received dozens of emails and phone calls offering suggestions on what should be done regarding Morriss Road. The suggestions cover the spectrum from “do nothing” to “full expansion to six lanes from 407 to 3040”. As we await the updated engineering documents, we have been given the opportunity to reflect, study, analyze and consider the best course of action.
The facts, as we know them now are that Morriss Road fails SMART Growth 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 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 at 3040 is what it is. We do not see a major structural change that would have a positive impact to address capacity constraints. Staff has been asked to look at safety improvements in this area.
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. While we seek ways to improve capacity, capacity at the expense of safety is not an option.
A few weeks ago, Town Staff provided a video taken during an afternoon school pick up that was shot between Garden and Fuqua. The video shows dense traffic backing up both of the northbound lanes and students walking and riding bikes on their way home. The video was produced at twice the normal speed to shorten the viewing time. The faster play back exaggerated some elements, but it also validated safety concerns expressed by residents; children walking on sidewalks with little separation from lanes of traffic.
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. As we see it, there are several benefits.
- This additional lane would give cars exiting Fuqua a ‘protected’ right turn onto northbound Morriss. The sightlines at this intersection are bad and this would improve safety by alleviating northbound through traffic in the right lane at this intersection.
- Progressing north to Forestwood, the right lane would be used to queue cars up for drop off in the morning and pickup in the afternoons. It would also allow through traffic, in the new left lane at the center of the road, and to flow smoothly during these critical hours.
- Similarly, an extended left-hand turn lane onto Garden Road would allow two through lanes of southbound traffic for commuters.
- Lastly, during non-peak hours, the new protected, right turn only lanes, will create a buffer between pedestrians on the sidewalk and through traffic along northbound Morris. This extra space between main traffic lanes and the sidewalk will improve safety for everyone using this road.
That is it, nothing more. We do not see a need to address any other sections of Morriss Road. No other sections are failing SMART Growth and based on our experience, we don’t anticipate that they will.
We have asked staff to review this proposal and intend to discuss it thoroughly at Town Council during the February 5th meeting. Because we want to make sure the discussion is as robust as possible, we decided it was best to share these thoughts with the public before that meeting. This gives everyone an opportunity to consider the proposal, formulate questions and come to the council meeting prepared to engage in a positive, open, and transparent meeting.
There is one thing we are all committed to, and that is the residents of this community. While we may have differences on how best to serve them, we all want to serve you the best way that we can. As we approach the meeting on February 5th, please keep sharing your thoughts and ideas with us at [email protected].
Place 4, Flower Mound Mayor Pro-Tem
Place 2, Flower Mound Town Council