In roughly a year, anticipated work should be complete on improvements to Main Street between Cabela’s Drive and Railroad Street, according to Buda officials.
In the interim, officials urge patience from residents as construction, which officially began Monday, will cause headaches in the short term, but improve traffic flow once complete in late June 2020.
“Once it’s completed, the people, if they have the patience, will see this is going to be a boon because it’s going to improve traffic flow going east and west,” Mayor George Haehn said. “There’s going to be some bottlenecking going on, but I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as it’s been.”
Kenny Crawford, Buda Project Manager, said the Main Street improvement project has been ongoing for roughly 1,700 days, or close to five years. Much of the work was done “behind the scenes” to get to the point of construction, which includes the permitting, traffic study and environmental process.
Buda’s Main Street improvements, part of Proposition 3 of the $55 million 2014 Buda bond, calls for widening the road west of Santa Cruz Catholic Church, located near Bradfield Drive, to five lanes. The city will install a traffic signal at Main Street and East Loop street, as well as improve sidewalks on the north and south side of the nearly .714-mile project. The general cost of the project is approximately $4.189 million.
Crawford said work will be done in three phases with the project slated to be complete by June 21, 2020. Each phase consists of working on different sides of the road.
“When we do pavement stuff, you don’t want to flip-flop back and forth and do it piecemeal,” Crafword said. “You do the entire length (of the south side) and then do the north side, then marry it up in the middle, to make sure it’s done correctly.”
During this time, traffic will be condensed to one lane, but there will be bidirectional flow going east and west simultaneously, Crawford said. Traffic control signals, signage and flagmen will be stationed to help during the construction period. Officials obtained input from businesses and residents in the affected area and are also taking measures to protect heritage trees near city hall.
Liz Shelton, who lives in the Bradfield subdivision along Main Street, said she was excited about the project starting up. Shelton, who voted in favor of the 2014 bond, knew results would be long-term, but would affect the city in a positive way.
The addition of the signal at Main Street and East Loop Street is beneficial as it’s going to make things safer and slow traffic down in the area, Shelton said. High traffic volume has made it challenging for Main Street residents trying to exit their neighborhoods.
“Those of us who live on Main Street and work and play, it’s going to be better for everyone. We need to focus on the end result,” Shelton said.
Buda resident Sam Ardekani said many neighborhoods near the construction area will see a relief as it will reduce congestion and improve safety in that area. However, Ardekani said he’d like to see efforts to reduce congestion further west in the downtown corridor.
John Montez, who lives on Cedar Street, welcomed sidewalks as they will improve pedestrian safety, while connecting residents to parkland nearby.
The new signal will also lead to a needed crosswalk bridging the north and south sides of Main Street. There have been times when Montez and his son have waited more than 10 to 15 minutes to try to cross Main Street, only to seek a crossing in downtown.
Julie Renfro, owner of Tavern on Main in downtown Buda, was excited about completion of the improvements, but said the process to get there was “scary.” Renfro said she liked the idea of two-way traffic during construction.
However, Renfro said improvements won’t keep backups and bottlenecks from occurring, attributing those issues to growth.
“We’re a big town in a small-town suit, so we have to make it fit the best we can,” Renfro said. “We can let it out a little here or there, but there’s not a whole lot of capacity.”