Tuesday, October 22, 2013

East El Paso, Fort Bliss to See More Highway Construction

Projects Lined Up for Loop 375, US 62, Zaragoza Rd.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) will hold community meetings in the coming weeks to inform the public about four new projects planned for East El Paso and Fort Bliss. Projects include widening of highways and roads, building new frontage roads, and a first-of-its-kind interchange in El Paso.

Loop 375 Widening

The first project will widen Loop 375 from Spur 601 to Montana Avenue, adding a lane in each direction. Currently, the freeway has two travel lanes in each direction and the project will add a third.

Bicycle “accommodations” will also be included in the project, according to the Public Meeting Notice. Frontage roads will also be added, though it is unclear if this is for the entire 5.3 mile stretch. The meeting will be held on Thursday, October 24, 2013, at the El Dorado High School Library from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Diverging Diamond Intersection – Loop 375 at Spur 601

A separate project will create a new type of interchange at the intersection of Spur 601 and the Loop 375 ramps. A Diverging Diamond Intersection (DDI) will replace the current diamond configuration and may speed up traffic by reducing the number of traffic lights.
The interchange at Loop 375 and Spur 601 may get a Diverging Diamond Intersection as seen in this rendering. (www.txdot.gov)

DDIs work by shifting non-freeway traffic approaching the interchange to the left, then back to the right after the interchange. This allows traffic turning left onto the freeway to continue without needing to wait for a green left turn light. It also reduces the number of traffic signals and their respective delays. These interchanges are relatively new and made their first appearance in the United Stated in 2009.
The diagram shows traffic flow through a Divergent Diamond Interchange. (www.dot.wisconsin.gov)

Officials may need to educate drivers on use of the interchange as driving on the “wrong” side of the road could be disorienting to some. Also, drivers who exit Loop 375 by mistake will not be able to simply get back on the freeway at the signal. Exits will force drivers to either turn left or right onto Spur 601.
An eastbound view of the proposed DDI. (www.txdot.gov)

There will be three meetings regarding the new DDI, the first of which will be held on November 4, 2013, at the El Dorado High School Library lobby from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

US 62 Main Lanes, Frontage Roads

A third project may turn Montana Avenue (US 62) into more of a freeway. The Public Meeting Notice for this project states the proposed improvements would include constructing frontage roads, sidewalks, and bike lanes in addition to two or three main lanes in each direction.

Generally, main lanes refer to freeway lanes while frontage roads are the gateways that run alongside the main lanes. The project would stretch 7.6 miles from Global Reach/Yarbrough Drive to Zaragoza Road. The public meeting for this project will be held November 14, 2013, at the R.E.L. Washington school cafeteria from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Zaragoza Road/Montwood Drive

The fourth proposal actually consists of two projects. The first will widen Zaragoza Road from two to three lanes in each direction between Sun Fire Boulevard and Montana Avenue, approximately five miles in length.

The second project will add a lane to Montwood Drive in each direction from Firehouse Drive to Sun Fire Boulevard. Montwood currently has two lanes of traffic in each direction.

Zaragoza Road at Loop 375 may also be extended west and take a turn southward to connect with the portion of Zaragoza Road that is south of Montwood Drive. Currently, northbound drivers on Zaragoza must turn right or left at Montwood Drive.

Aside from the added capacity, the project will also add lighting, bike lanes, and sidewalks to both projects. The meeting for both projects will be held on October 30, 2013, at Montwood High School from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

No timeline has been publicized for these projects, though more details may be available at each respective community meeting. More information can be found at www.txdot.gov.