Frustrated Highland Park leaders have bad news for motorists: Preston Road construction will likely haunt drivers into fall.
(ABOVE: Street work beside Highland Park Village could, weather permitting, finish in May, but more Preston Road construction is coming. Photos by William Taylor)
Though work north of Beverly Drive could, weather permitting, wrap up in May, a new phase south of there will begin soon after.
Ideally, that next one, Phase B, would finish by the end of September or at least before children are ready to trick-or-treat on Halloween, town staff said.
“We are going to hope for a dry summer,” director of engineering Lori Chapin said.
Phase A, the $3.4 million road and utility project from Beverly to St. Andrews Drive, included more than $1 million in funding from Dallas County and nearly $1.4 million from Dallas Water Utilities.
Work began July 30, 2018, and is expected to be 80 days beyond its contractual completion date by the time it’s finished. Most of those days were excused, Chapin said.
The 71 excused days, as of early May, involved design and other issues with the Dallas Water Utilities portion of the work, Highland Park Village construction and holiday shopping accommodations, AT&T infrastructure, and more rain than anticipated.
“I’m suffering from construction fatigue . . . Can we get a break for a while?” -John McKnight
Town council members regularly get complaints about the heavy fines motorists get for speeding in a work zone and field questions about when the work will be over.
“That’s the No. 1 question people ask us,” council member Craig Penfold said.
Mayor Margo Goodwin said, “I can’t go anywhere where people don’t ask me, ‘When will it be done?’”
She sometimes responds with a joke, “Not in your lifetime.”
But the mayor and council members recognize that those stuck in the gridlock that comes with lane reductions find it more frustrating than funny.
“I’m suffering from construction fatigue,” said mayor pro tem John McKnight, citing all the work at Highland Park Village, Bradfield Elementary School, and Preston Road. “It just seems like Preston Road has been under construction for three years solid. Can we get a break for a while?”
Rehabilitation work done in 2016 between Armstrong Avenue and Beverly Drive has proven insufficient to stave off heavy wear and tear.
Town administrator Bill Lindley said that section of Preston Road needs attention now. Design work is done, and the $2.2 million project will receive an anticipated $943,500 in funding from the county.
Phase B will include road reconstruction from Armstrong to Beverly, bike lane signage from Armstrong to Mockingbird Lane, sidewalk improvements on the east side of Preston from Beverly to Mockingbird, and signal improvements at Beverly.
Ragle Inc. will remain as the contractor for the project.
Phase C, which involves the area around the Armstrong intersection, is still a few years away.
Town leaders don’t expect Phase B to interfere with the Park Cities Fourth of July Parade.
Council member Eric Gambrell wanted to know what the road will look like when students return to school in August.
“We’ll have two lanes of traffic,” Chapin said. “I wish we could reconstruct it without closing anything down.”