Hempstead Highway @ Kansas St: Project Update
We just received a thorough and important update on the Hempstead Highway project (where it turns into Washington) at Kansas St in Cottage Grove West from the TxDOT project manager for this project. Here is what we know!
About the Project
This collaborative project between Union Pacific and TxDOT does several things: first, it widens Hempstead Highway and adds a sidewalk on either side of the road, even under the railroad bridge. Second, it replaces the old train bridges and tracks and adds new ones. As a bonus, it replaces the pavement up to the railroad tracks on Kansas St! This project has been happening for at least a year and will continue into 2022, with completion between the middle and end of year.
As the work continues to replace the bridge and the roadway, a new bridge has been constructed, but the roadway isn't replaced yet. The old roadway is higher than the new one, and the new bridge is lower than the old one. Of course the project managers knew this, and they had flaggers and signage right out in front telling semi trucks not to go through. Also of course, several didn't listen and several have already struck the new bridge.
The result of these truck strikes on the bridge is that they need to close this area entirely until the lower road can be completed and the height is such that semi trucks can go through. If the don't do this, they could compromise the integrity of the bridge with more trucks striking the bridge, and truck drivers (and others) could get seriously hurt. The closure will be for at least a few months until the road is completed.
The impact on our neighborhood of the bridge area being closed is that the semi trucks and all the other traffic go straight down Kansas Street and into our neighborhood. Some turn around, but most do not. Because it's for a few months, it's going to be painful!
One Interim Solution
Right now, all the signage that's posted is focused on communicating the fact that the bridge is closed - there is no current signage directing traffic other places. After talking to the TxDOT project manager, he committed to changing one large message board to tell trucks to use 11th St instead of Kansas and placing that sign as strategically as possible. Because the trucks have ignored the flaggers and the signs previously, there is a definite chance that they will ignore this, but it's a step in the right direction.
Safety for Railway Heights
Because of this project's proximity to the new Railway Heights development, the workers have noticed a major safety issue and will be addressing it in the next week or so - people are going down Kansas St, crossing over the tracks, and heading into the parking lot of Railway Heights from there. As many as 10-15 people at a time are doing this, and some with strollers!
This is a major safety issue and is considered by Union Pacific as "trespassing on a railroad right of way" (not good). They are putting up a barricade to try and stop this from happening, because someone could get killed and is definitely violating a law or two.
Eventually, once TxDOT's project is complete, there will be a sidewalk where we can all get to Railway Heights from Kansas St by going under the railroad tracks, but until then, please find a different path!
Sidewalk Clean Up
There are large pieces of railroad tracks that are a part of the project obstructing the sidewalk on Kansas St. Per the project manager, these will be removed next week and the area/grass will be cleaned up. This will make our community look much nicer.
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