As a project manager for the city, I’ve heard a lot of concerns from our citizens about the inconveniences due to construction and the impact it has to their daily routines. I’ve also heard complaints about how long it takes to complete a project and even questions about the need for certain projects.
I definitely relate to their frustrations because I used to have those same questions and concerns. But as I gained more experience in the civil engineering field, and learned more about the obstacles the city faces when completing projects, I began to accept that some things must be done for the good of the community. Some hardships and inconveniences are necessary for growth, progress and improvement to the water, sewer and transportation infrastructure that is so vital to our city. If we don’t undertake these projects, roads would become even more congested, sewers would back up, and water wouldn’t be available.
Unfortunately, short-term inconveniences for some are necessary for the betterment of the whole community. In addition to our citizens, we must satisfy other jurisdictional agencies as well as our own high standards. Some of these things often are out of our control, but we do the best we can to deliver safe and functional projects on time and on budget. That’s the greatest challenge we face with all our projects.
The Barron Road Phase 2 project comes on the heels of Barron Road Phase 1, which included widening the road between State Highway 6 and Decatur Drive. Phase 2 will include widening the road between Decatur Drive and State Highway 40, with two travel lanes in each direction, a raised landscaped median, bicycle lanes and sidewalks. The project also will include traffic signals at Barron and Victoria and SH 40 and Barron.
In addition to traffic improvements, we are building a storm sewer system to upgrade to the current drainage system. The combination of Barron Road Phases 1 and 2, and the Barron Road Interchange project by the Texas Department of Transportation, will create the only road between Rock Prairie and SH 40 that offers full access between SH 6 and SH 40. Graham Road currently connects SH 6 and Wellborn Road, but it doesn’t allow access to northbound traffic on SH 6.
We hope this combination of projects will alleviate any congestion that now occurs due to the lack of connectivity between the east and west sides of town. It also will alleviate the frustration we all feel when we have to make the trek all the way to William D. Fitch just to turn around.
This project has presented several design challenges, one of which has been clearing the right-of-way of existing utilities. Most of the existing utilities had to be relocated to allow for the construction of the new pavement. Keeping Barron Road open to traffic and maintaining neighborhood access while building new lanes were additional hurdles. These challenges will continue through construction, but we have a detailed plan for detours that will allow Barron Road to remain open while providing access to neighborhoods and side streets. Plans for these detours can be seen on the Barron Road project website.
I have worked quite a bit with College Station Independent School District to coordinate and plan for the new high school that is being built at the intersection of Barron Road and Victoria Avenue. The Barron Road project should be finished prior to the school’s opening in August 2012. I’m ready to see the results of all our coordination and collaboration to provide a simple, safe and congestion-free transportation system to serve the new school.
This project may inconvenience users of Barron Road for about 18 months, but citizens on the south side of College Station will be able to breathe a collective sigh of relief when it’s finished. I’m excited to see the project under construction and I’m confident it will serve the city well when it is complete.
Daniel Beamon, P.E.
Assistant City Engineer | Capital Projects