The high-traffic intersection at Aquarena Springs Drive and Interstate Highway 35 has received a new “continuous flow” design to relieve congestion.
The Texas Department of Transportation unveiled the new “innovative intersection” Thursday that is the first continuous flow intersection in the Austin District, said Kelli Reyna, TxDOT public information officer.
Although the construction for the project is not finished, TxDOT has moved the cars into the “ultimate configuration” of the new CFI intersection, Reyna said.
“We still have about two weeks to a month left to finish up the construction full at that area, but if you’ve driven through it you will be driving the same way you will whenever the construction is complete,” Reyna said.
Everything is in place to help drivers maneuver through the new intersection with signs and markers, Reyna said.
“There’s a new intersection design, so we just ask that motorists that are driving through the area pay attention to the signs and pavement markings,” Reyna said. “It’ll guide them straight through the intersection.”
Traditional intersection designs put left-turning traffic in the middle of the road, with through-traffic waiting for those vehicles to turn, according to the TxDOT CFI factsheet. However, a CFI moves the left-turning traffic to the outside edge of the road allowing through-traffic to move through the middle of the intersection at the same time. This change increases the amount of vehicles that can drive through the intersection in a single traffic light cycle, according to the factsheet.
There are multiple innovative intersections currently “in the works,” but the one at Aquarena Springs Drive at IH-35 is the first to be completed, Reyna said.
“A CFI is a low-cost improvement to help ensure that the intersection becomes safer and you can get more cars through, which decreases congestion,” Reyna said.
The intersection at Aquarena Springs Drive at IH-35 was an “ideal candidate” to be turned into a continuous flow intersection, Reyna said.
“It’s a heavily used intersection,” Reyna said. “You have all the students going to Texas State, you have a lot of through traffic trying to get through and you also have a high number of left turns.”
Reyna said this combination of factors helped determine that the continuously flowing intersection design was the best option to help increase the amount of vehicles that can go through the traffic signal at once. She said this will decrease travel time and the wait drivers normally experience there.
The city works closely with TxDOT on transportation projects because many major roadways are state roads, and every project is usually a “partnership,” said Melissa Millecam, spokeswoman for the City of San Marcos.
“We’ve been familiar with this project as it’s gone through the design and planning,” Millecam said. “This is certainly being done with our consent, and we think it’s going to expedite traffic.”
Millecam said she drove in the new intersection Friday and was able to “zip on over” to the east access road to get onto the interstate very quickly.
“I think once all the signage and details are completed, I think it’ll make it easier for people,” Millecam said. “But changes like that are confusing to start with.”
Construction will begin on an additional continuous flow intersection at Hopkins Street and IH-35 once construction on the Aquarena Springs Drive intersection is completely finished, Reyna said. Construction on the Aquarena Springs Drive intersection will be complete in a few weeks, she said.
Once begun, the new CFI at Hopkins Street will take about four months to complete, Reyna said.
Construction cost for both intersection improvements is estimated to be $4.7 million, according to a TxDOT IH-35 Intersection Improvement Projects factsheet.
“Many more of these (intersections) are coming throughout the district, not just in San Marcos but all throughout Austin as well,” Reyna said.
Drivers must pay attention to new signs and markings and be aware that traffic flow will be different when driving at the intersection, Reyna said.
“Generally speaking, these are the kind of things that we’re really hoping will improve mobility for our community,” Millecam said.