Visalia Road project makes a step toward safety
Four-lane roadway provides more lighting for pedestrians, business owners in Farmersville
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
FARMERSVILLE – The largest road project in Farmersville’s history is complete.
Last month, the Farmersville City Council approved a notice of completion for the Visalia Road Improvement Project. The $5.6 million project to widen Visalia Road to four lanes from one end of the city (Virginia Avenue) to the other (Brundage Avenue) began in December 2016 and was essentially completed in July 2018. The roadwork was done by Emmett’s Excavation Inc. for a total of $3.6 million, about 8% more than the base contract, within the range of typical contract work over bid, due to change orders by the city.
The project also added curb gutter and sidewalks along the southern edge of Visalia Road between Rose and Brundage and the northern edge of the road between Ventura and Virginia avenues. Fire hydrants as well as water and sewer links will be added along both of those sections as well to be ready for future growth along the city’s main commuter corridor.
Mayor Paul Boyer said the project definitely gives the city curb appeal to attract new businesses but is also safer for residents. With turn lanes, bike lanes and parking slots, there is a lot more distance between vehicles on the road and pedestrian walking on the sidewalks.
More importantly, the project added 27 new Marbelite-style street light poles and seven street lights to existing power poles along Visalia Road. That doubled the number of street lights along the roadway and should reduce pedestrian accidents along the roadway. In recent years, people trying to cross the street after dark has resulted in one death and two more people being seriously injured.
“It makes everything safer for our own residents,” Boyer said. “And it makes it safer for people to go in and out of our businesses on Visalia Road.”
A woman was killed walking on the sidewalk along Visalia Road on Dec. 11, 2016, just before the project began. The woman was headed to church and attempted to cross the road outside of a crosswalk. When a driver swerved to avoid the woman, the car spun out of control and hit and killed a pedestrian on the sidewalk before striking a power pole.
Boyer said Visalia Road is also one half of the city’s plan to create a community that is both aesthetic and accessible. The four-lane expressway divided by a landscaped median is exactly what has been outlined in Farmersville’s General Plan, a document that outlines growth for the next 20-25 years. He said the next phase of the plan is to realign and widen Farmersville Boulevard from two to four lanes from Walnut Avenue north to Highway 198. Boyer said the cost of the project will be paid for with Measure R funds that the city saved on its dual roundabouts at the intersection of Farmersville Boulevard/Noble Avenue and Highway 198/Noble Avenue. The roundabouts cost the city a combined $3 million, far less than the $25 to $30 million projected to build a new on and off ramp and new overpass interchange for the Farmersville exit off the highway.
Last year, the city spent more than $700,000 on Farmersville Boulevard at southern edge of the city to fill in the gaps in the sidewalk on both sides of the roadway, add bike lanes and safety features and create a bus turnaround to improve public transportation throughout the city.