With the completion of the highway reconstruction work expected by the end of the year, additional changes in approaches to the intersection of Commerce Street, Main Street and Clements Street — the so-called “Traffic T” — are being implemented.
One such change greeted motorists last week, as curbs for the raised medians along East Commerce and West Commerce were poured. That will prevent left turns across traffic from Romines to the McDonald’s area, except at the signaled intersection.
The reconfiguration of the intersection on the busiest stretch of highway in the city is part of a highway surface rehabilitation project that’s been in progress for the past year.
“We are hopeful that this contract will be completed in December, barring any setbacks,” Sandra Parker of the Brownwood District of the Texas Department of Transportation, said Friday.
Prater Equipment Co. of Comanche is the contractor for the $4 million project.
She said among the items still to be completed are installation of electricity for signal bridge and illumination at the intersection. The traffic signals at the intersection will hang from a bridge similar to the one installed at West Commerce, West Austin and Belle Plain.
“The raised median is a safety treatment for this high traffic area,” Parker said. “The medians will be filled with stamped textured concrete and will look like the raised medians at Austin/Belle Plain and West Commerce.”
Final paving of the highway surfaces approaching the intersection is also yet to be done, Parker said.
“The median curbs on East and West Commerce look high now, but when the final layer of pavement is put down, they will be better proportioned,” Parker said.
Westbound motorists are urged to use the signal at Commerce and Romines to access the alley behind businesses on the south side of U.S. Highway 67, Parker said. All exits from the businesses must be eastbound.
The merge lane for eastbound traffic turning south to U.S. Highway 377 is no longer used. A dedicated right turn lane is available at the crossroads signal.
Access to the businesses on the southeast side of crossroads — like KFC and PRO Cuts — is similar to what it has always been, Parker said, but the exits have changed. Northbound traffic from U.S. 377 can use the same street that it has in the past, but an exit must be made by using Hughley, Pecan, Riverside and Rush streets. Eastbound U.S. 67 traffic will have access at Riverside between Subway and Taco Bueno.
Raised medians will run from Romines St., east to near McDonald’s and south on U.S. 377 to Hughley Street.
“When the $4 million project is complete, the intersection will be safer, wider and more efficient,” Parker said.
In a report to the Brownwood City Council before the project was let, TxDOT Area Engineer Bryan Raschke said traffic counts showed that 20,000 vehicles a day passed through the corridor in 2004. Projections are that 28,000 vehicles a day will use it by 2024. In the previous four-year period, the short stretch of highway had been the scene of 182 accidents, with one fatality, six serious injuries and numerous less serious injuries.
Early last year, Raschke said traffic at the intersection had grown 12 percent after the opening of Home Depot and other businesses on the north side of the intersection. Although it won’t affect congestion, the raised median should enhance safety by drastically reduced the number of potential points of collision caused by left turns.