Construction nears completion on 1.2-mile stretch of Hwy. 71

Construction is expected to finish in late July on a 1.289-mile stretch of Hwy. 71 between Upland Ridge Drive and Southwest Parkway.

The project added center turn lanes on the highway. Texas Department of Transportation spokesman John Hurt said the added turn lanes are to help reduce traffic and the number of car wrecks on the highway.

"Whether it is north or southbound, it gets [drivers] out of the main lanes and drastically reduces the possibility of a rear-end collision," he said. "It gives them a safe place to set while they are waiting to make the turn."

At the beginning of the year, the project was estimated to be finished by April, but a wetter-than-expected winter pushed the completion date back several months, Hurt said.

Business owners and employees along the stretch of road said they are excited to see the construction finished.

"It did take way too long, and it did impact business a lot," said Deborah Clark, a saleswoman at Greenhouse Mall, 12501 W. Hwy. 71.

The construction closed the normal entrance to Texas Golf Cars and Service, 12307 W. Hwy 71, for several months. The business was given a temporary entrance driveway that was 75 yards away from the original driveway.

Texas Golf Cars and Service Manager Will Barrett said the construction combined with the downturn economy was painful for the business.

"The timing wasn't the greatest in the world," he said. "It was a double whammy."

But Barrett and Clark said the center turn lanes were needed, despite the problems caused by construction. They said they would often hear tires screeching or cars getting rear-ended.

"We are hoping to never hear another accident again," Clark said.

The Texas Department of Transportation has been making improvements on Hwy. 71 since 2005 to add center turn lanes from Hwy. 290 west to Pace Bend Road.

Construction and planning on several other projects is ongoing.

Hurt said the additional turn lanes are necessary because of the increased number of people driving in the area.



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