“It will be painful.”
Those were the words of Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton when City Council heard a report on Jan. 10 about the transition to the next phase of the $38.2 million SH 26 widening project from the Texas Department
Phase 1 of the SH 26 project is coming to an end, and in late January crews began to transition the project to Phase 2. TxDOT spokesperson Val Lopez said it will take approximately one month to transition the entire construction area to Phase 2, which will result in shutdowns to several major intersections along the highway as the temporary driveways and ramps
are removed and crews begin work in the center lanes.
The transition will be completed from south to north and will be done in five sections, weather permitting, Lopez said.
Minh Tran, TxDOT area engineer, said each road section could be closed for seven to 10 days as SH 26 is widened from four lanes to six lanes.
Newton emphasized that from the standpoint of residents and local businesses, this transition needs to be completed as quickly as possible.
“What happens is the left-turn access has to go away as they go through this transition,” he said. “The intent is to minimize the length of time when that occurs. … But I just wanted everyone to know that [it]is coming up very quickly. … And the businesses will feel that, and the citizens will feel that.”
To help soften the blow, and to encourage Colleyville residents to drive the road to visit the businesses along the 3-mile stretch, the city launched a campaign in January called Quarter 1 Promotion to help local businesses with advertising expenses. And there could be more efforts to follow.
“We’re looking at all kinds of ways we can assist businesses,” Colleyville Economic Director Mark Wood said.
SH 26 transition plan
In late January a partial traffic transition took place, limiting access from Brown Trail to Centerpark Drive. Southbound traffic remained in the same lanes, and northbound traffic shifted to the new pavement on SH 26. Crews worked in the middle of the roadway to build new inside lanes.
In February the remaining four sections of SH 26 started to be transitioned to the next construction phase. Lopez said the transition schedule is subject to change, but at this stage the remaining locations of the transition areas, in order, will be Centerpark Drive to Main Street; Main to Hall Johnson Road; Hall Johnson to Tinker Road; and Tinker to John McCain Road. After crews complete the transition along the entire 3-mile stretch, Phase 2 of the project can begin.
The challenge to SH 26 businesses
As the highway is transitioned turning left will be limited, and drivers will have to detour with U-turns. These intersections could be closed for up to 10 days at a time, something several members of the council spoke against.
“We can say seven days, and I’m automatically going to say it’ll be 14,” Council Member Mike Taylor said to Tran at the Jan. 10 meeting. “We can get a downpour, we can get weather, we can get ice, and … your crews are going to leave. We’ve got businesses shut down; we just don’t have that strong of a commercial corridor. These folks need relief.”
This was echoed by Robin Vander Stoep, owner of Furniture Consignment Gallery located off the SH 26 corridor. She said in the last quarter her business was down $45,000 over the same month from the previous year.
She said her driveway is hard to see over the construction, and it is difficult for moving trucks to make it through the driveway entrance to get to her store, costing her business.
“People have told me they do everything they can not to go up and down [SH] 26,” Vander Stoep said.
Tammy Doak, owner of Bark Avenue off SH 26, said her customers have told her similar stories. She said her business has three driveways her customers can access. She said, however, that the experience driving the highway can be “nerve-wracking.”
Vander Stoep said she would like to see crews working 24-7 to help minimize the impact to local businesses.
“It seems that should have been brought up with TxDOT and the contractor from the get-go, that they need to be working more around the clock than what they are,” she said.
At the Feb. 6 City Council meeting, Public Works Director Jeremy Hutt said TxDOT would not place additional crews on the project, so the possibility of having crews work night and day was ruled out. He expressed faith in the ability of the transitions to be done smoothly, however, based on the transition of Centerpark and Brown.
Wood said that city staff members meet with businesses along this stretch of the road during construction. Because of this, the city developed the Quarter 1 Promotion, or Q1P, project to grant up to $1,000 to qualified businesses
“It’s an effort to get the word out that Colleyville is open for business … and assist the businesses that have chosen to invest in Colleyville,” Wood said.
He said several businesses have already applied for this program. The city will receive feedback from participants on the success of this campaign.
Wood said that the beauty of a name like Q1P means there will be a Q2P in the future, which could look different, or be the same, depending on the success of Q1P.
In addition to Q1P, the city launched its own advertising campaign.
“It’s letting all residents know that now is a great time to shop local,” Wood said. “We know [this construction period]is challenging, but we really encourage people to shop local.”
He said when people shop in Colleyville, they reinvest back into their community. The sales tax revenue the city receives from local shopping helps pay for the city’s police officers, park programs, street maintenance and other city services.
“There’s a direct correlation between shopping local and giving back to the community,” Wood said.