'Part of progress': Legacy Drive overhaul to transform key roadway in Frisco

Part of the Legacy Drive project has included replacing 40-year-old water lines and other aged components buried deeply beneath the concrete. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)
Part of the Legacy Drive project has included replacing 40-year-old water lines and other aged components buried deeply beneath the concrete. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)

Part of the Legacy Drive project has included replacing 40-year-old water lines and other aged components buried deeply beneath the concrete. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Legacy Drive is restricted to two lanes until winter 2022 as new lanes are built. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Northbound lanes on Legacy Drive are currently closed. Southbound lanes will close in spring. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)
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All traffic has switched to the southbound side as new northbound lanes are made. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Four signals will be upgraded. A new signal will be put at Legacy and Country Club Boulevard. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)
About 30,200 drivers who travel Legacy Drive daily have at least another 12 months of construction to navigate. Beginning in spring, traffic patterns will switch again, as construction moves to the west side of the roadway.

From SH 121 to Warren Parkway, Legacy Drive will be widened from a four-lane divided roadway to six lanes. The city of Frisco is spending $18.2 million in bond money and funds received from Collin County to reconstruct a majority of the existing four lanes.

Since 2016, Frisco has worked to refine design plans for the project and coordinated with residents as the project has taken shape. The city is aiming for an early 2023 completion.

“Legacy really is an important arterial as far as a north-south route,” said Jason Brodigan, assistant director of engineering in Frisco. “A lot of people use it. Having six lanes is going to help get people to where they’re going.”

‘Temporary pain and struggle’


Work on the 1.5-mile stretch of Legacy Drive is not without compromise, Mayor Jeff Cheney said.

Cheney said the project would be a “temporary pain and struggle” for Legacy Drive neighborhoods and Frisco residents when the City Council awarded the project contract to McMahon Contracting on June 1.

However, he mentioned that many residents lived through construction work on Main Street and Eldorado Parkway. In the end, Cheney said the Legacy Drive expansion will boost the driving experience in Frisco.

“This is part of progress,” Cheney said. “When it’s completed, it’ll really help congestion and getting cars through there.”

Before the project began, nearly 16,000 drivers used the northbound lanes daily, and just over 14,000 used the southbound lanes.

Brodigan said the construction will help support an already built-out region of the city. More left- and right-turn lanes and a narrower median will allow for smoother commutes, he said.

“I don’t know that we can really spur much more development,” Brodigan said. “What it’s really going to do is accommodate development.”

That existing development needs proper infrastructure around it, he said. Part of the Legacy Drive project has included replacing 40-year-old water lines and other aged components buried deeply beneath the concrete.

“When you want to invest this kind of funding into a construction project, you want to make sure you get everything,” Brodigan said.

Because of the project’s scope, the city had to plan for temporary traffic restrictions. Since August, all traffic has switched onto the southbound side of Legacy Drive as three new northbound lanes are constructed.

In spring 2022, all traffic will be switched onto the new northbound lanes as work on new southbound lanes begins.

“We have not had a lot of unexpected issues,” Brodigan said. “The timeline seems to be going well.”

Road blocks

Business could be better for two storefronts that recently opened along Legacy Drive, the owners said.

CBD Modern opened at 1701 Legacy Drive in August, when the first traffic restriction was implemented.

Owner Daniel Cheng said the construction has “significantly” affected his business.

He said he has heard from numerous customers that the traffic buildup has often caused them to visit other CBD stores. Although he said some customers have returned whenever traffic is light, “bumper-to-bumper” traffic discourages prospective customers from making a stop inside.

“When signing our lease, we were never given any advance notice for the construction,” Cheng said. “Candidly, we would not have signed our lease if we knew that this construction project was going to last until mid-2022.”

Cheng also said there have been instances of construction workers parking outside of CBD Modern, which he said was problematic. All the friction that comes from the construction, he said, makes it hard for a business just starting out to gain momentum.

“We are a new business, and it is already hard trying to survive in regular conditions,” Cheng said.

Pet service business Stonebriar Grooming opened in July right next to CBD Modern in the same strip. Owner Brian Voorhees said it is difficult to say just how much the Legacy Drive project has affected operations.

“I do, however, wonder [about] the number of people who don’t drive past our business currently due to choosing to take an alternative route to wherever they’re going,” Voorhees said.

Voorhees said he was aware of the construction when he opened Stonebriar Grooming. And although the project comes with inconveniences, he said he believes it will be worth it in the long run. He said the project will help his business.

“Once the project is finished, we stand to benefit from it,” Voorhees said. “More drivers means more exposure.”

Finishing touches

Frisco is working on cosmetic upgrades to Legacy Drive in addition to road improvements.

Brodigan said although the trees in the median and along either side of Legacy Drive afforded a popular scenic view, many of them had to be removed.••“Many of those trees weren’t going to survive much longer,” he said. “They were unhealthy, and they reached some end-of-lifetime periods.”

More than two dozen of the healthy trees along Legacy Drive and Town and Country Boulevard have been transplanted to Coyote Park, Boulder Draw Park, Shawnee Natural Area and Bacchus Park. Frisco City Council on April 6 approved a purchase order of $117,265 with Fannin Tree Farm to relocate them.

Heavy focus has been placed on future landscaping for Legacy Drive. Several varieties of trees will replace the old ones, according to Brodigan. They include colorful varieties such as Mexican buckeye, cedar elm, and red and live oak. Switchgrass, little bluestem and soft leaf yucca plants alongside decorative rocks are also planned.

Landscaping is scheduled to begin in winter 2022.

Niris Lelle works as a barista at Coley’s Craft Coffee & Wine Bar on Legacy Drive. The Frisco resident of about two years said the trees added to the overall aesthetic of the neighborhood.

Still, Lelle said business visibility was a good consolation. Moreover, Lelle said she lives along Legacy Drive. Her already short commute has not been drastically changed because of the project, she said.

“There are both pros and cons when it comes to that,” Lelle said. “Unfortunately, the trees have been knocked down. But fortunately, when people are driving, they get to see the businesses that are around here.”

Brodigan said he thinks the wait will be well worth the temporary inconvenience of construction.

“We really appreciate all the patience we’ve received from our residents, and we’d like to ask that they just continue that,” he said. “Another year and a few months, and we’ll be done, and everybody can go back to business as usual.”•
By Matt Payne
Matt Payne reports on Frisco City Hall and its committees, Collin County Commissioners and McKinney business. His experience includes serving as online content editor at Fort Worth Magazine and city editor at the Killeen Daily Herald. He is a 2017 graduate of the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas in Denton.