Navigating the construction on FM 1187 is not only a significant part of Lylia King’s commute to and from work at Mary Jo Sheppard, it’s become a significant part of her job as the school’s principal.She and her staff, working around obstacles of the road-widening project, have had to devise campus entrance and exit patterns that have limited most access to the east side of Sheppard at Cardinal Road.It’s been frustrating, she said.“My family travels back and forth to Dallas for their jobs and school, and they say this traffic on 1187 holds them up more than the Dallas traffic,” said King, who had headed the school since summer 2012. The project manager is the Texas Department of Transportation, which is using state and federal funds of about $7.4 million – at no expense to the city of Mansfield – to rebuild a 7,200-foot section of FM 1187 from North Main Street westward to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. That two-lane asphalt stretch with bar ditches is being rebuilt as a concrete, four-lane road with raised-curb medians, curbs and gutters. Work began in the summer of 2012, but was delayed for several months because of a redesign and reconstruction of part of the road section. At the time work resumed in July, state officials estimated the work would be completed during this calendar year. That target has been moved to sometime in the spring.The contractor for the project, Lone Star Civil Engineering, was facing a $5,000-a-day penalty by TxDOT if it did not reach a specific milestone -- having all four lanes built and at least one lane open each direction by Thanksgiving. That requirement was met, said David Boski, city transportation engineer.Currently, the four lanes are open between Main Street and Cardinal Road, but only one lane in each direction is open from Cardinal to the tracks.Steve Freeman, the city’s public works director, said he believes all four lanes could be in use by January, while work remains to finish remaining roadside projects like sidewalks, driveways, traffic signals and median.“They’ll put down sod in some places, and they don’t really need everybody on one half of the road to be able to do that,” Freeman said.David Boski, the city’s transportation engineer, said he’s confident that the tension for FM 1187 travelers will soon come to an end.“There has been frustration,” Boski said. “But now that everybody is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I think people are starting to feel relief now.”For King, tightening the traffic-flow routes on campus at the beginning of school in August may have been difficult for parents taking their children to and from school. But she said the plan was designed “to be the least confusing for parents, cause the least amount of congestion, and be the safest for our students.”She believes it’s worked well, getting parents in and out at dismissal within 10-15 minutes. And it will get better, she said, when classes resume after the winter break Jan. 7. The new plan will allow access to the campus on the north side from FM 1187.“We’re thrilled” about the road improvements, she said. “But you always have to go through a little difficulty to get to the good stuff.”Here’s an update other major road projects now in the works.Matlock Road at Debbie Lane and Mansfield Webb Road intersection. Improvements include dual left-turn lanes in all directions and a right-turn lane from northbound Matlock Road onto eastbound Mansfield Webb Road. Pavement markings and striping, landscaping, signal work are some of the remaining items that are scheduled for completion by the end of December.East Broad Street and Miller Road Intersection. Improvements include pushing back the four corners to improve turning, and constructing a right turn lane from eastbound Broad to southbound Miller. Work crews were able to complete the paving improvements to Broad by the start of this school year. All concrete work is finished and punch-list items are being completed.Heritage Parkway from Mitchell Road to Matlock Road. The project will provide a connection of two sections of Heritage that will link U.S. 287 and Texas 360. It includes building bridges over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Construction on the 18-month project began in early November. Earthwork and relocation of utilities are under way.West Broad Street from Cotton Street to Retta Road. The formerly two-lane asphalt road is being expanded into a four-lane divided concrete street, from Cotton Street to Retta Road, one of the last two street projects funded by the 2004 bond election. All concrete street pavement is complete, while work continues on sidewalks, final grading and landscaping. Pavement markings, signage, streetlights and other miscellaneous items will be next. Total completion is expected in January.Grand Meadow Boulevard extension. The section will be a four-lane undivided collector street from Holland Road at the Sports Complex entry east to Day Miar Road along the south side of Mary Lillard Intermediate School. Construction will begin this month and take about one year to finish.Seeton Road realignment. This project will eliminate the Seeton Road railroad crossing. Seeton will follow the north side of the railroad and tee into Holland Road north of the tracks. The work includes drainage ditches and structures, an asphalt roadway surface, and a quiet zone railroad crossing for Holland Road. A portion of construction funding will be reimbursed through a TxDOT program. Construction began in late October and is expected to finish by summer 2014.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann