Longtime University project completed

It took six years to complete, but University Boulevard from Andrews Highway to Grandview Avenue is now broader, smoother and safer, Odessa city officials say.

But it wasn’t an easy path to get there. It also took about $16 million total to complete.

“Initially, we thought we’d design and start building it,” Traffic Operations Superintendent Hal Feldman said. “It didn’t quite work out that way.”

“The purpose of the project was to broaden University from four to five lanes,” Feldman said about the city’s first major road project in more than two decades. But city officials quickly realized there wasn’t enough room to expand the lanes.

That discovery forced the city to purchase and remove seven houses and one commercial building to make room for the project. Another 64 property easements were also required.

The city also had to work with various utility companies and even the fire department to remove and relocate fire hydrants, telephone poles, powerlines and even street signs.

Despite what turned out to be a bigger undertaking than anticipated, city officials, residents and many motorists have expressed both relief and satisfaction with how the project turned out, Feldman said.

Since the project’s Sept. 23 completion, the city has received many calls and compliments about the improved corridor boasting sidewalks on both sides of the street, Feldman said.

“It’s really improved the traffic flow and made the road safer to travel,” Feldman said.

The most noticeable improvements are the addition of a new turn lane and traffic signal near the YMCA at Maple Ave. A once prominent, sharp curve has also been significantly straightened out.

The creation of five bus turnouts, and two signalized road crossings for pedestrians were also included in the project.

“One of the problems we had is University has so many access points,” Feldman said. “We tried to improve the flow by closing three side streets to eliminate some conflict points.”