By Moses Leos III
Despite proposing three and four lanes for the Lehman Road reconstruction during the bond process, Kyle will instead seek to improve the road’s two-lane structure.
The Kyle City Council’s decision, made via a 5-0 vote on Oct. 8, could help keep the project under its projected $7.1 million budget. HDR, Kyle’s engineering firm for the Lehman Road project, presented an update during the last week’s city council meeting.
Of the three options HDR presented, only one came in under budget.
Cost overrun was a concern for Mayor Todd Webster, who was told prior to Wednesday’s meeting that none of the options were under budget.
“That was my first concern,” Webster said in a phone interview. “I was relieved that they were able to get a workable solution to get [the project]under budget.”
The one option under budget is a two-lane road that would cost approximately $6.86 million.
Kyle’s proposed reconstruction presented during the bond process, which featured three and four lanes, had an overrun of nearly $2 million. A secondary option featuring three lanes went over by $1 million.
Several factors played into the cost overrun, according to Allen Crozier, Project Manager at HDR Engineering. Acquiring right of way (ROW) to allow for drainage ditches was one assumption.
The second was the increase in the economy and the rise of unit item costs in construction.
A third substitute option would keep Lehman Road two lanes, but have dedicated turn lanes at several intersections. The intersection at Goforth Road would be widened to four lanes.
Crozier said two lanes on Lehman Road could handle future traffic growth.
Based on statistics compiled by HDR, Lehman Road is projected to see an increase from 4,000 to 7,500 vehicles per day (VPD) by 2034.
Webster, who lives near Lehman Road in the Steeplechase subdivision, agreed with HDR’s assessment.
“I drive it all the time. It’s busy … but there’s not a substantial amount of traffic,” Webster said. “It gets congested for short bursts during school hours.”
According to Crozier, the two-lane substitute would still remedy the main factors plaguing the road — flooding and disrepair.
Included in the proposed plans are a pair of two-lane bridges that would cross the Soil Conservation Service Dam that feeds into Lake Kyle and Plum Creek. The plans also call for raising the road by 15 feet in both areas.
It was assumed those areas would be box culverts during the bond process. Crozier said analysis proved they could construct a bridge at a lower cost.
While the improvement won’t keep water off the road completely, Crozier said any overflow would recede at a faster rate.
The secondary issue was alleviating damage caused by the ever-moving black clay prevalent on the east side of IH-35. Several stabilization techniques, including adding cement or lime treatment, will be utilized. The pavement has a 20-year design life.
“We’re working hand in hand to give the city a roadway that will be able to handle the movement of the clay over time and show less damage from that movement,” Crozier said.
The third option will also limit the city’s right of way acquisition and utility replacement costs. Only 11 parcels would be impacted, with no ROW required from the backyards of homes in the Prairie on the Creek subdivisions.
Narrowing of the roadway, by as much as 16 feet from the original proposal, will also act as traffic calming effect, Crozier said.
Kyle’s initial three and four lane proposal would have impacted 29 parcels of land. It would have forced the city to take five feet of backyard space from 15 homes in the Four Seasons Farms subdivision.
The two-lane surrogate would affect 4,750 long feet of utility lines; a vast difference from the over 13,000 long feet of utility line impacted by the city’s initial option.
However, the savings could be negated by wastewater improvements to the Southside Interceptor Project.
The projected improvements would upsize waste water lines from 18 to 24 inches. It’s projected to cost $375,000, which would put the overall Lehman Road reconstruction in the red by roughly $100,000.
Crozier said the improvements “made sense,” as the city could replace the lines during the reconstruction of the road. He said it could help prevent the city from tearing up the road for a second time.
Webster thinks the plan could help accommodate the area’s wastewater needs.
“Doing that now is a million dollar savings five years from now. It’s smart planning and the smart thing to do,” Webster said.
The Lehman Road reconstruction is scheduled for letting in December 2015, with construction beginning no later than February 2016. The project is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2017.
Cost estimates for two/three lane Lehman Road improvement
Construction subtotal – $6,171,638
Design subtotal – $697,000
Total cost – $6,868,638
Upgrade 18" wastewater line to 24"
Design – $25,000
Construction – $350,000
Total overall cost – $7,243,638 (Budget: $7.1 million)