Waco MPO presents final draft of future US 77 project

Posted at 7:57 PM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:28-04

The Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization will present the final draft of a proposed project for US Business 77 corridor from the Brazos River until Elm Mott next month.

The Waco MPO has already received feedback from the community and will take into account the feedback it recently received from city governments along the corridor when it presents the final report to its policy board.

The plan, which is part of a one-year study, proposes to have a four to six lane boulevard at ground level with no overpasses, on or off ramps or frontage roads on US 77.

"It's important to note that the current corridor, everything is structurally OK, maybe be functionally obsolete, but that doesn't mean it is not safe. What we are anticipating is that over the next 20 to 25 years, it will begin showing its age and we will be required to be something different,” Waco MPO Director Chris Evilia said.

The corridor, which will be 100 years old in 2040, is designed to hold up to 100,000 vehicles a day, according to Evilia. Currently, it carries 15-30 percent of that.  

According to Evilia, the proposed plan will be up to $25 million, which he said would be a fourth of the cost of rebuilding the entire corridor with the current design.

Some members of the community have provided positive feedback about the project.

“We’ve also heard from other folks who say ‘if we are going to rebuild this corridor, let’s bring it down to ground level’ where we provide much better access to properties, provide an opportunity for redevelopment, basically provide us an opportunity to save some money in terms of long-term maintenance costs,” Evilia said.

King Mack, who currently works at Muscles Detail off US 84, believes the proposed plan would make that area less confusing for drivers.

"I think it will be more organized, instead of people coming from out of town, not knowing which area to go,” Mack said.

Evilia added the proposed design with roundabouts would make the area safer.

"They provide us a safety benefit that we don't have from the signalized interchange in that you no longer have these T-bone type collisions or the possibility type of those,” Evilia said.

He added that the proposed plan would make the corridor accessible for those who don't drive, providing public transit options.

As of Tuesday night, the Waco MPO had already presented the plan to the City of Bellmead, the City of Waco and the City of Lacy Lakeview.

"We've also received feedback from some business owners and from the City of Bellmead that the existing design really works better for them, mostly those who are trucking firms that use the corridor as an alternative to Interstate 35,” Evilia said.

The City of Waco provided positive feedback after the presentation during their Tuesday afternoon work session.

After the feedback from the city councils, the Waco MPO will present this to the policy board. The MPO plans to present an alternative scenario for the Bellmead section.

That board will either accept the recommendations, approve them with recommendations of the consultants or not accept them. Based on the board's action, they will forward that to the Texas Department of Transportation. The information sent to them would ask them that any future work done in the corridor would be consistent with the report provided. 

Currently, there is no funding sources or timelines for the project. However, Evilia said state or federal dollars would have to be incorporated at some point and considering local resources are limited.

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