TxDoT replacing signal at Lee and South Broadway, rebuilding FM road through Cumby

From Staff Reports

May 28, 2008 - Texas Department of Transporation officials are embarking on two highly visible projects in June that will most affect motorists in Sulphur Springs and Cumby.

The biggest project will be the $1.35 million reconstruction of a highway running through Cumby, but the most visible will be in Sulphur Springs with the replacement of the traffic signal at the intersection of South Broadway and Lee streets.

Work on both projects will begin in June.

According to TxDoT Area Engineer Ernest Teague, the traffic signal at Broadway and Lee has served travelers well for years. But the construction of a Walgreen's Drug Store on South Broadway on the east side of the intersection presents complications with the old signal arrangement.

Most significant is that the current signal light does not have lights facing east, where the store will be built, so traffic coming from Walgreen's parking lot would not have protection when entering South Broadway.

The signal was not scheduled for replacement for a few more years, but the store's developer offered to pay for the signal upgrade, and a contract for $94,800 to replace the old signal has been awarded to Durable Specialties Inc. in Duncanville. In addition to that amount, however, TxDoT is supplying the poles and controller cabinet, items which normally have a long delivery time.

"We needed to set the contract up that way in order for it to stay on schedule with the opening of the store," said Teague.

Work is scheduled to begin the first week of June, and 30 working days has been allotted for the completion of work. With normal rain days, TxDoT estimates completion of the signal replacement in mid-July.

Work will also begin in June to rebuild a roadway connecting the city of Cumby with Hunt County, with construction continuing through the fall.

The Texas Department of Transportation has contracted with R.K. Hall Construction in Paris to reconstruct FM 499 from the Hunt County line east through Cumby to a point near the intersection with IH-30. The 3.138 mile project was recently awarded for $1.35 million.

According to Teague, FM 499 has a lot of history behind it.

"This route was once old Highway #1," said Teague, who is based in the Sulphur Springs office. "That was before highways had the separate designations for Interstate, US, State, and FM Highways. It was an old East Coast to West Coast route used by early travelers."

After the original elevated road bed was constructed through Cumby, concrete pavement was placed in the early 1920s. Later, it carried the designation "U.S. Highway 67," which also traversed other towns in Hopkins County, such as Sulphur Springs, Saltillo, Weaver and Brashear. In the 1950s, when Interstate 30 came through, the road followed the old US 67 route to a great degree.

"However, when the Interstate bypassed the towns along the old route, those old segments of roadway through the towns either kept their old US 67 designation or were given a new road number, as in the case of the section through Cumby," Teague said.

The old roadway through Cumby is one of the narrowest highways in the two-county area, added Teague.

"I guess it worked pretty well for the old Model-A vintage vehicles, but newer vehicles, especially trucks, are a good bit wider," he explained. "Anyway, we have been looking for the appropriate opportunity to widen it for a number of years."

A Federal Hazard Elimination program finally provided that chance, he said.

"We struggled a bit with finding a way to stretch the funds available through this program to fit the need," Teague said, "but we finally came up with a good workable solution.

Under the current plan, the highway will be widened with a heavy, hot-mixed asphaltic "base" material, and then the whole surface will be overlaid with a new specialty asphaltic surfacing mix. The new hot-mixed asphaltic surface is called CAM, standing for crack-attenuating-mix.

"It is designed to be more elastic than conventional hot-mixed surface materials, providing resistance to reflective cracking coming up from the old concrete pavement below," according to Teague.

The CAM surface had been used in limited capacities in recent years on a more or less experimental basis, with strong results. A presentation before an annual meeting of asphalt users and producers in November included data on some of those projects. A section of Business US 82 in Texarkana, for example, had no major surface distresses after three years of service. A test in the Houston area showed no cracks in the surface after 2.5 years.

The project is scheduled to start in June and should be completed this Fall.

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