Plans are underway for a new set of traffic patterns along US 75.

At a Jan. 23 Richardson Chamber of Commerce meeting, Jennifer Vorster, Texas Department of Transportation district engineer, provided updates on a $57 million project that would replace the existing underutilized separated high-occupancy vehicle lanes along the highway with what the department describes as “technology lanes.”

“I don't know what [the lanes will] look like in the future yet; we're just kind of setting it up for a future ability,” Vorster said. “If you just had an information sign or some sort of technology to be developed in the future, you can put it there without having to do the whole project effectively over again.”

The details

After months of planning and open house meetings, work on the project is set to begin in March along the stretch of US 75 between I-635 and SH 121.

As part of the project, officials plan to remove the pylons separating the northbound and southbound HOV lanes and turn them into general purpose lanes. The lanes will only be limited to HOVs, low-emission vehicles and motorcycles during peak rush hours—7-9 a.m. southbound and 4-6 p.m. northbound. Vorster noted enforcement will not be done electronically and will only be conducted by officers.

Additionally, work includes installing more advanced lighting and signage, which involves replacing the center divider and allowing for electronic infrastructure to be put in place that will give TxDOT the ability to potentially upgrade the lane for other purposes in the future.

“The idea here is we're putting a bunch of intelligence, what we call intelligent traffic systems, in the ground,” Vorster said. “In the future, if there was some other plan to update how those lanes function, we won't go and close the HOV lane for another 30 months. That same type of system can be used if we wanted to add more message signs that tell you important things or many other functions.”

What you need to know

Work on the project is expected to take about 30 months with the first phase focusing on the portion between the President George Bush Turnpike and SH 121, and the second focusing on the PGBT to I-635.

At the meeting, Mark Nelson, Richardson director of transportation and mobility, said most work, which is being led by planning and design firm Kimley-Horn, will likely take place after 9 p.m. to minimize the impact on traffic.

Another aspect of the project is looking to work with different city and regional agencies to coordinate signal timing along the frontage road, allowing for first responders to more quickly reach the scene of an accident and adding extra time to clear traffic congestion that could be caused by it.

“If you add an extra 10 to 15 seconds on ... whichever direction the accident has taken place, it then creates a little bit more capacity in the corridor,” Nelson said.