$9.9M Waco Drive project takes shape with new sidewalks and traffic lights | Local government and politics

Sidewalks and traffic lights along a 5-mile stretch of Waco Drive are being repaired and upgraded by the Texas Department of Transportation as part of a $9.9 million effort to make the corridor safer for pedestrians.

Last fall, workers began fixing broken sidewalks deemed tripping hazards and replacing traffic lights with up-to-date models that use cameras. The project runs along Waco Drive, or Highway 84, from Lake Air Drive to Clifton Street, and is expected to be completed this winter, said TxDOT Waco District spokesman Jake Smith.

“This area was selected due to the high risk of pedestrian and intersection related incidents throughout the corridor,” Smith said.

Traffic lights along Waco Drive are outdated and tend to malfunction during thunderstorms, flashing red and creating more danger for drivers, said Jim Reed, the city’s public works capital program manager. from Waco.

“It seems like if lightning strikes or some pretty aggressive weather event happens, it turns them into a flash of red,” Reed said. “While this is a TxDOT-sponsored, safety-related project, it meets a lot of our needs in this area of ​​improving alternative mobility and pedestrian mobility.”

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Reed said the new traffic lights will use cameras to detect oncoming cars, making them more reliable than outdated traffic lights that rely on sensors under the roadway.

“I think it’s a great project for us,” Reed said, adding that the city is “way behind” on traffic signal upgrades in that area.

The Waco Metropolitan Area Active Transportation Map produced by the Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization shows a patchwork of sidewalks in poor, fair, and good condition along Waco Drive.

TxDOT is paying for the Waco Drive project through its $600 million Road to Zero effort to reduce road deaths.

Rod Aydelotte, Tribun-Herald

The City of Waco paid engineering consultants Kimley-Horn $976,770 for engineering and design work on the project.

The sidewalk work will also bring the walkways up to current Americans With Disabilities Act standards. The project also includes improvements to intersections along the route.

Funding for the project came from TxDOT’s $600 million dedicated to its Road to Zero initiative, an effort to reduce Texas road deaths and eliminate them completely by 2050.

In 2019, the Texas Transportation Commission tasked TxDOT with halving the number of pedestrian fatalities by 2035, which would reduce the annual number of fatalities to around 1,800 according to a TxDOT press release. At least one person has died on Texas roads every day since Nov. 7, 2000, a pattern that was unbroken even during the height of the COVID-19 shutdowns when many Texans stayed home.

According to the state’s Crash Records Information System, Highway 84 through McLennan County has been the site of 52 crashes that injured 40 people and killed eight from 2017 to present. Of these, 18 occurred in 2019, the year TxDOT announced its goals.

Waco Drive sidewalks

Crews are pouring new sidewalks along Waco Drive near Sixth Street.

Rod Aydelotte, Tribun-Herald

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