A major improvement project on Todd Lane got its start on Sept. 15, and will transform a heavily traveled narrow road into a wider, safer street designed to handle automobile, bus, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Southbound traffic is being detoured onto Woodward Street during construction, which is expected to last a year and a half.
The project will widen Todd Lane to three lanes, including a center turn lane, plus 6-foot-wide bicycle lanes separated from other traffic by 2-foot-wide buffers. New 10-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of the road will provide much-needed pedestrian access, which will also include four crosswalks that will alert drivers with flashing hybrid beacons when someone needs to cross the street. The number of bus stops will double from two to four. (See how construction will affect bus routes at the Capital Metro service alert page.)
Construction also will add two biofiltration ponds and seven rain gardens landscaped with native plants. Most water will be captured on-site and allowed to seep into the ground, but heavy overflow will go into a new storm drain. The drainage improvements will take the place of the shallow ditch that previously carried water off the curbless road.
“Traditionally, drainage on country roads is provided by bar ditches,” said project manager Clay Harris of the City of Austin Public Works Department. “We’re not in the country anymore.”
The final piece of the project will be the city’s largest roundabout, Harris said. Located at the four-way intersection of Todd Lane, St. Elmo Road and Pleasant Valley Road, the 120-foot-wide traffic circle has been designed to handle traffic from several kinds of users, including truck traffic at this confluence of industrial parks, office parks and residential neighborhoods.
Construction will take place in several phases. Phase 1, on the west side of Todd Lane, will last until summer 2015. Phase 2, on the east side of the road, will take another six months. Phase 3 will then build the roundabout at St. Elmo Road.
The project got off to a slow start, delayed by the relocation of utilities by AT&T, Harris says. He first described the project in a Burleson Heights Neighborhood Association meeting in August 2013. Learn more about the project and meeting in the Aug. 15, 2013, Hurly-Burly post. More details are at the city’s list of Public Works projects.
Originally, one lane of southbound Burleson Road had been closed at the Ben White Boulevard (Texas 71) intersection to prepare drivers for the road closure and detour during the 18-month project. However, at the neighborhood’s request, Harris and the Transportation Department agreed to keep all three lanes of Burleson open. The left lane will head straight in preparation for a left turn under the overpass, the center lane will go straight or right, and the right lane will turn right, allowing drivers to head west toward downtown and the Todd Lane detour via Woodward Street.
Contact: Clay Harris, project manager, Clay.Harris@AustinTexas.gov or (512) 974-7895
Update: The city reopened the third lane at the Burleson-Ben White intersection on Oct. 14.