Montgomery County commissioners on Jan. 14 awarded the contract for a long-awaited road improvement project at Oak Ridge North’s western limit.

The project will result in the widening of Robinson Road around Westwood Drive, the signalization of the Woodlands Parkway-Robinson overpass at I-45 and some adjustments to lane alignments on the highway interchange between the frontage roads.

The approved contract also includes a separate project in The Woodlands that will widen an 0.17-mile section of Lake Woodlands Drive from west of Six Pines Drive to the western side of I-45.

“Mobility and safety continue to be the main priority of this office,” Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said in a statement Jan. 15. “We are excited to move forward with these two projects.”

The Robinson intersection and interchange work will cost $2.4 million, and the Lake Woodlands Drive widening was approved at a $1.3 million, with construction funded through Precinct 3's share of the county's 2015 road bond.

Noack's office said both projects are expected to begin construction by late February or early March. The Lake Woodlands widening could take around nine months to complete, while the Robinson intersection and I-45 interchange project could last around one year, according to Noack's office.

A bid for the two-part project was first approved by commissioners Oct. 22, but it was then rejected at the court’s Nov. 11 meeting and put out for bid again in December. Commissioners unanimously approved the final bid without further discussion in January through the court's consent agenda.

Improving Robinson Road has been a top priority in Oak Ridge North for years due to its central location and place in future city plans, its proximity to many city businesses and the regular traffic congestion experienced on the road, according to city officials. According to recent traffic counts, more than 16,000 vehicles cross the Westwood Drive intersection daily. That total is projected to nearly double in the next 20 years.

The western overpass and intersection work approved in January represents the first of several possible improvements planned along Robinson in Oak Ridge North. The county project could be followed by the realignment and signalization of Robinson at its disconnected Hanna Road intersection, the addition of an eastbound left turn lane on Robinson into the city’s Commerce Park and the widening of Robinson between Westwood Drive and Hanna Road. Those potential projects have yet to be approved by the city or county, and no costs or timelines have been set.