Dozers, dump trunks and graders move laboriously along a 2.1-mile stretch on U.S. 81/287 between U.S. 287 Business South and the intersection with Farm Road 2264 on the south end of Decatur.
It’s the first step in major upgrades by Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on a pair of heavily trafficked intersections that have been the site of many serious accidents over the years.
U.S. 287 will be elevated to go over the business route, which will be dropped about 8 feet and extended to connect with County Road 4127 across the highway, near where the NRS Arena is located. TxDOT officials working on the project said it will resemble the underpass where Farm Road 730 goes under U.S. 287.
“We are seeing increasing traffic in this part of Metroplex,” said Val Lopez, TxDOT spokesperson. “This will increase mobility and safety at those intersections.”
An average of 20,000 vehicles pass through the intersection every day, and TxDOT predicts that number will grow in the coming years. The project will be done in conjunction with TxDOT and North Central Texas Council of Governments. Austin Bridge and Road, LP, has been contracted to oversee the construction, which is within right-of-way TxDOT purchased in 1972.
The state will also extend FM 2264 into a two-lane service road that will run north to the intersection of Business U.S. 287. The service lanes will be betweenthe northbound lanes of U.S. 287 and the railroad tracks. Traffic will no longer be allowed to cross over at FM 2264.
The change will allow school buses coming from FM 2264 to get to Decatur without having to enter the main highway. It will also better handle oilfield traffic merging onto U.S. 287 from the farm road.
The project will cost approximately $16 million and is estimated to take 543 days.
“We broke ground in February, and it is still on schedule to be completed by September 2016,” said Natalie Galindo with TxDOT. “Everything is going well.”
Eventually there will be some lane closures due to construction. TxDOT will notify the public when it occurs.
“Everyone needs to drive safe in the construction zone,” Galindo said. “Drop your speed and be a little more cautious.”
According to the TxDOT website, the project was 1.01 percent complete after 25 project days as of March 4. Track the progress at www.txdot.gov.