University project starting soon - Odessa American: News

University project starting soon

By Paul Wedding | Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019 12:18 pm

After years of planning and preparation, the city of Odessa will begin the project to widen University Boulevard in the coming weeks. 

A public hearing was held Thursday night by the city to inform residents and answer any questions they may have about the project, where Traffic Superintendent Hal Feldman said the project would be starting soon.

“Expect to see traffic barrels out the week of Aug. 19,” Feldman said. “Construction is expected to last two years, so there’s going to be orange barrels out there for a while.”

The project is to widen University Boulevard between Andrews Highway and Grandview Avenue. Initial design work for this project started all the way back in February 2015, but was stalled by the need to purchase several lots near the YMCA at 3001 E. University Blvd., where they plan to straighten out the roadway.

Feldman said the city purchased nine residential lots and one commercial lot in total, and in preparation, the city has been clearing those lots and relocating fences, fire hydrants and power poles, as they plan to straighten the curve in the road in that area.

The project is being broken up into two phases, Feldman said, so that the whole two miles of roadway isn’t under construction the entire time. These two phases split University in half, the first half being from Andrews Highway to Maple Avenue, and the second half being from Maple Avenue to Grandview Avenue. During each phase, Feldman said they would also be doing one half of the roadway at a time, meaning while the north half of the roadway is being worked on, traffic would be redirected down the south half, and vice versa.

“It’s a tight roadway now, but we want to keep traffic flowing through the corridor while we have construction going on,” Feldman aid.

For residents and business owners on University Boulevard, Feldman said access would be maintained depending on the type of construction.

“If we’re paving right in front of your driveway, you’re going to have to stay off of it for an hour or two,” Feldman said. “But we’re trying to maintain access to businesses, and especially those houses that only have driveways that face University, and there are some of those.”

As opposed to closing four or five intersections at a time, Feldman said they would close every other intersection, so residents would only have to drive one block around to get to their home.

Joel Roberts is one resident who lives on University, who said he was concerned about flooding still being an issue at the corner of University Boulevard and Muskingum Avenue after the project was completed.

“It’s still going to flood, now there’s just going to be another lane,” Roberts said.

Peggy Clemons is the owner of Industrial Communications, located at 2535 Jackson Ave., just off of University Boulevard, but said she wasn’t worried about the project affecting her business.

“I just want it to be done,” Clemons said. “I remember when they did it in front of Odessa College, it was such a relief.”

Leigh Ann Melton owns Blooming Rose, a flower shop at 302 E. University Blvd., and said she had some concerns about the project affecting her business, but was told there shouldn’t be construction blocking her driveway around Valentine’s Day, her peak business period.

“I know we need to get University fixed, but we also need to keep in mind the businesses,” Melton said. “When they block our driveway, it’s hard for customers to get in … I hate it for business purposes, but I’m glad they’re doing it.”

The project has a total cost of about $22,580,599, including engineer and land acquisition costs, and is being paid for out of a previous public works bond issued by the city in 2013.