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Changes proposed to Sessom Drive

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Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) officials presented updates to the Sessom Drive improvement project at the May 19 city council meeting.

Officials unveiled plans for widened sidewalks, improved traffic signals, intersection modifications and construction timeline adjustments. The start of construction has been moved from fall 2015 to spring 2016, said Shaun Condor, CIP project engineer.

Condor’s presentation included proposed changes to the intersection of Aquarena Springs and Sessom Drive. Condor said changes to the timing of traffic lights and the installation of improved signals would make crossing safer for pedestrians.

Officials from CIP proposed additional safety measures for cyclists and pedestrians through the widening of the Sessom Drive sidewalk from five feet to 10. Council members hoped the change would allow cyclists to travel on the sidewalk without colliding with pedestrians.

Condor said the costs of the proposed changes for the bicycle, pedestrian and intersection project will total $184,733.80. The entire project is expected to take no more than a year to complete.

Previous plans for the State Street and Sessom Drive intersection were changed to preserve salamander traps installed in a nearby runoff ditch, Condor said. Planners were forced to shift construction plans 13 feet.

Benjamin Schwartz, assistant professor for biology at Texas State, installed the traps in 2014 to capture endangered blind salamanders at the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Condor said. The traps prevent blind salamanders from leaving their natural habitats when heavy rains wash them into wastewater.