By Daniel Burgess
The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to widen U.S. 380 in an effort to move traffic more efficiently, but officials said in a public meeting that no amount of road construction can prevent worsening traffic in North Texas.
TxDOT officials outlined preliminary plans for the project on May 12 at Navo Middle School. The area surrounding what used to be a stretch of rural highway is quickly filling up with new neighborhoods and commercial development, creating regular traffic backups on 380.
“We’re having the public meeting to gather input from the public on the project, trying to get some ideas, see what they think of the project and the input they have as far as something we might have overlooked,” project manager Bruce Nolley said.
The project will convert U.S 380 from Loop 288 in Denton to west of County Road 26 to a six-lane urban boulevard featuring curb-and-gutter drainage and a center raised median to control access and limit left turns for increased safety.
The road will also feature four 11-foot center lanes and 14-foot-wide shared-use lanes to allow for bicycle accommodation.
“I talked to a lot of people that said they want to see that,” Nolley said.
The shared-use lanes will provide direct access for cyclists to ride to the trailhead of the Greenbelt Trail for the first time.
Sidewalks will also run the full length of the road. The speed limit would be reduced from 60 mph to 45 mph along the stretch of 380 west of the U.S. 377 intersection.
“You’ve got a lot of cross traffic coming through here, so slowing it down would provide a better level of service,” Nolley said.
Grade separations are planned for intersections at FM 720, Navo Road, FM 423, Teel Parkway and Legacy Road, which would eliminate traffic lights for through traffic on 380.
The town of Cross Roads had lobbied for eight lanes, but Nolley said a traffic flow analysis showed traffic didn’t significantly improve with eight lanes rather than six.
“With eight lanes, we were still having a lot of failures at the intersections,” Nolley said. “The number of intersections is what’s causing a lot of the backups, so it was still viable with six. It wasn’t enough to justify doing the eight lanes over six.”
The project’s schedule calls for a public hearing this fall and clearance on the environmental impact in late 2016 or early 2017. TxDOT will acquire the right-of-way in spring 2017 and begin construction in 2018. Officials expect construction to take three years to complete.
Although widening 380 will help relieve traffic congestion, no amount of road construction can keep up with the current growth, said Michelle Raglon, TxDOT public information officer.
“Twelve hundred people move to Texas, specifically North Texas, a day,” Raglon said. “So when you see all of these rooftops still going up, still see these big companies coming to North Texas bringing thousands of employees.
“Some of the cities that are cities now, 10 years ago they were farms.”
Raglon said a system of transportation entirely dependent on roads and cars is inadequate to accommodate such rapid growth.
“You have developers that come in and say, ‘We’re going to build a thousand homes over here and two thousand over there.” And they don’t consult anybody about the roadways,” Raglon said. “Then they say, ”What can you do about this traffic?’ You just can’t build the roads that fast.”
TxDOT took written comments at the meeting and is taking comments online at keepitmovingdallas.com.