We have all been there at one time or another. It’s 5 p.m. and you’re in your car. The searing sun is in full-roar. You’ve just worked a 12-hour day and all you want to do is get home.
Unfortunately, you are stuck in a bottleneck traffic situation that tests you patience and makes time stand still. For Huntsville residents, there is hope beyond the heat vapors that radiate off of the highway to nowhere.
The State Highway 30 Bridge opened to commuters last Thursday, ending a two-year construction project that was designed to improve safety conditions and the quality of travel for drivers.
What began in April 2001 was what TxDOT Area Engineer David Stephens said would be an effort to make traveling the bridge a whole lot safer.
“Safety is the main reason it was it was built,” Stephens said. “The project was undertaken for safety, and to provide better mobility. ”
Stephens said the improvements to the bridge were long overdo.
“What we had to start with was a five lane section, with a center turn lane. Now, we still have two lanes in and two lanes out, but there is an additional left turn lane,” he said.
Stephens said the needs of the Huntsville drivers who use the bridge are what helped to plan the design.
“We eliminated the traffic nuisance with more storage capacity,” he said.
Stephens added that to make the bridge function up to its full capacity, additional changes were made to connecting roads that are part of the bridge’s function.
“We also made u-turn bridges on both sides to allow people to negotiate the interchange more easily,” Stephens said. “Back before we did the project, the frontage roads were two-way. Now, they are one-way. If you are on the east frontage road you can only go north. The frontage road in front of Chili’s is also one-way.”
Stephens said technology was implemented into the project.
“We are updating the traffic signals, they are now state of the art,” he said.
Stephens said the $4.7 million undertaking took as long as it did to complete because of the volume of traffic the bridge holds.
“Try to maintain traffic and build the bridge at the same time, that’s what took so long,” he said.
Stephens said credit for the bridge project should be given to a local representative.
“U.S. Rep. Jim Turner was very instrumental in securing the funding for the project,” Stephens said.
Huntsville residents can look forward to other improvements that will be eventually be made to the same interchange.
“We have a project right now that’s design is completed,” Stephens said. “We will be moving the off ramps further back so that it will be easier to make that exit. The south bound off ramp will be moved to the Holiday Unit, and the north bound ramp will be near Stuart’s Garden Center.”
Stephens said construction on those projects should start this winter, and he estimated that full completion of the Highway 30 Bridge would be this summer.
“We are trying to get ahead of the advancing development,” said Stephens.