ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) – Construction on University Boulevard in Odessa is officially complete.
It’s relieving, not only for drivers tasked with maneuvering the construction zones, but for the city. The project wraps up after starting in 2014. Safety improvement and increased mobility were the main goals of the project.
“[University] brings all of West Odessa into town,” said Hal Feldman, traffic coordinator for the city of Odessa. “I’m glad we made it through construction.”
Construction happened over the past two years on University Blvd. Feldman says construction occurred in two phases. The first phase focused on improvements between Andrews Hwy and Maple Avenue. The second phase focused on improvements between Maple and Grandview Avenues.
The project would ultimately widen the roadway on University, from four lanes to five lanes. Feldman says the purpose was to accommodate for a new center left turn lane throughout the corridor. That new turning lane is important because of the large number of homeowners who live along University, and who often pull into their driveways from University. Before the construction, turning from University into a residential street could be dangerous.
“Before, they would have to stop, try and wait to make a left turn, hoping the vehicle behind them also stops for them,” Feldman said.
Now that drivers have a lane dedicated to turning, the hope is safety increases with this added precaution.
There is something else distinctive about University Blvd. by the YMCA. The road, prior to construction, had a sharp curve, Feldman says. The city straigtened the road enough to reduce that sharpness. To be clear, the road still curves, but ever so slightly.
Yet, for Feldman and the city of Odessa, the road to completion wouldn’t be without bumps and delays. Feldman says, after initial public meetings and roadway planning, the city thought construction could begin immediately. But they couldn’t, because of the narrowness of University Blvd.
Thus, a smaller project would begin amid the larger one: a project to acquire something called ‘right of way’ along University.
“Moving fences, trees, fire hydrants, all the utilities that were in the corridor,” Feldman recalled. “Because all those wood power poles had to be relocated and moved to accommodate a new, wider roadway.”
The city also purchased eight parcels of land along the corridor to make expansion on University possible.
After working with franchise utility companies to move those power poles – a cooperation Feldman says he is thankful for – the city of Odessa would ultimately remove the pre-existing obstacles and start construction. By Fall of 2021, the project would be finished.
“It’s nice that it’s finally done, complete, no more orange barrels,” Feldman muses.
The city also added five EZ rider pullout bus stops, so buses can safely pick up passengers without stopping in the roadway.
There are new pedestrian crosswalks with signals, too.
Then, there’s this: chain link fences along some University Blvd. parks, like Jim Parker Park, to prevent any stray soccer balls – or kids – from entering the roadway.