Rockwall County officials met Wednesday afternoon in a special meeting to discuss the details of the Interstate 30/FM 551 interchange project, and in particular, what this project will mean for traffic flow during its duration.
Officials from the City of Rockwall and City of Fate, as well as school district officials from Rockwall and Royse City and emergency personnel from all over the county were present, as were a number of representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
Tung Nguyen, TxDOT transportation engineer, gave a rundown of the project, which will be completed in six phases.
In the first phase, new entrance and exit ramps at FM 551 and temporary detour pavements on I-30 will be constructed. Frontage roads during this time will be reduced to one lane at ramp locations. This phase is scheduled for completion in October.
The second phase includes the shifting of traffic into detour lanes and continued work on frontage roads. The scheduled phase completion is April 2015.
Phase III will have the biggest traffic impact as portions of the old FM 551 bridge will be removed, construction of the I-30 eastbound bridge will be finished, and the north section of FM 551 will be built.
Through traffic on FM 551 will be closed for 60 days and frontage roads are to be reduced to one lane. Phase III is schedule for completion between April and August of 2015.
FM 551 will reopen during phase four. Remaining portions of the FM 551 bridge will be removed and traffic will be diverted back into its original eastbound lanes.
In the final two phases, interchanges and “Texas U-turns” will be completed and project cleanup will take place.
TxDOT officials ensured school district representatives that lane closures would only take place during times when traffic to and from school was not an issue.
Just like the lane closures at Erby Campbell, eastbound 551 will shift to one lane from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., while westbound 551 will move to one lane between the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. TxDOT ensured those at the meeting that it would do everything in its power to accommodate school traffic.
During the 60-day closure of FM 551, emergency vehicles will have either a detour lane or crossover lane in the median of I-30 at mile marker 75. This location is being considered due to its location on a hill, which provides optimal sight distance.
TxDOT said repeatedly that its crews will work around the clock in order to keep the project on schedule.
The first phase began June 10 and an estimated 506 working days will be put into place before the proposed completion date of November 2015.