Keller city staff will continue to work on the design for the improvement of the Mount Gilead Road project after hearing input from City Council at a work session at its Nov. 20 meeting.

Any plans for the design must keep residents’ input in mind, as council discussed resident feedback from a recent public meeting. Council also asked staff to explore options to address drainage and minimize tree impacts for the expansion project, Keller Public Works Director Alonzo Linan said in an email.

No action was taken as it was a discussion item. During the work session, council heard about the scope of the project along with resident comments made at a public meeting Oct. 25.

“We will host another work session once staff has additional information about drainage options, including what those options will mean for adjacent property owners, trees and project costs,” Linan said in the email. “City Council also requested that staff hold another meeting for the public between that work session and design reaching the 60% mark.”

The design phase was at the 30% completion mark as of the Nov. 20 meeting, Linan said.

City officials said the plan is to conduct the project in two phases, with the western section being first priority. The total project cost is $13.8 million, with the fist phase costing $9.3 million. The costs are subject to change based on further conversations about various design elements. Funding for this project is expected to be a combination of general fund and roadway impact fees.

The background

The two nonresidential developments affected by this project are Center Stage, a 38-acre mixed-use development along US 377 between Mount Gilead Road and Ridge Point Parkway, and Milestone Church, which is directly east of Center Stage, Linan said.

One of the two plans would have the project run from US 377 to Bourland Road—the entire scope of the project—and the other would be US 377 to Mount Gilead Private Drive. At the Nov. 20 work session, council saw a design that would run from Bourland to Milestone Church and then west from the church to US 377.

In this eastern part of the project, the road would transition from a five-lane undivided road to a three-lane undivided road between Oak and Bourland roads. Other major features are a Bourland Road roundabout, a detention pond and a conservation easement.

The features of the other part of the project—from US 377 to Mount Gilead Private Drive—would include a four-lane divided road from US 377 to Oak Drive, asphalt transition to an existing two-lane roadway, and a 10-foot-wide trail on the north side and a 6-foot-wide sidewalk on the south side.

At the Oct. 17 meeting, council was presented two different choices for the project with different price tags at $13.8 million for US 377 to Bourland and $9.3 million for the shorter option that spans from US 377 to Mount Gilead Private Drive, but no decisions were made at the Oct. 17 meeting. An Oct. 25 public meeting was held on the project.

What they’re saying

In Linan's discussions with the public, the most frequent topics brought up by residents were traffic and design, Linan told council. A few people asked about speed limits, with 40 miles per hour being considered now, and that speed limit exists now. Some people asked about left turns because of how turns would be affected with restrictions in the future.

Linan said 75% of responses centered on why this project was needed in the first place and whether a road study reached appropriate conclusions.

“Kudos to those who asked these questions, because they were astute questions—they were insightful,” Linan said at the meeting, adding people wanted to know, for example, whether the baseline data were gathered before, during or after the height of the pandemic.

Zooming in

Discussions about the road project also included sidewalks and trails, drainage, and trees—with some people expressing concerns about the loss of trees. Plus, people wondered about the neighborhood itself—a pervasive concern Linan encountered.

Linan also heard comments about the developers and how they should bear the burden of the lion’s share of improvements. There was, however, near universal acceptance for a roundabout to be built on the road. He also shared that many comments centered on how people did not know about the project. He said information would be shared on a city webpage people can access.

Linan then asked for direction from council on a myriad of issues, such as a detention pond, a roundabout, tree conservation and right-of-way acquisition. He advised council members that if they decide to do nothing, it will not be an “impact-less” choice.

Construction on Phase 1 of Center Stage is wrapping up, but a second phase is expected to break ground next year, and Milestone Church officials have plans for several additional buildings on their property, Linan said in an email. As they continue to develop, both Center Stage and Milestone Church officials will be required to make improvements to Mount Gilead Road to accommodate traffic.

Linan said in the email that means if city officials choose not to proceed with a project the city manages, the western portion of Mount Gilead will still be widened by the Center Stage and Milestone Church developers in the years ahead. Rather than a piecemeal approach to improvements managed by two different private developers, city staff's goal is to provide a more comprehensive project that meets the projected traffic needs of Mount Gilead from US 377 all the way to Bourland Road.