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Building a major roadway, green field to main lanes

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What does it take to get a "green field" road built by the county? A major roadway -- from scratch. 

Our Special Projects staff put together a general outline to show what is involved and the amount of time it takes for a road project like Collin County's Outer Loop from start to finish.

Planning for the Outer Loop – a 52-mile arc across the eastern and northern portions of the county – began in 2002 and takes up five main segments. These run north up the eastern side of the county, wrap to the west just past Blue Ridge, and head to Celina and the county line.

The development of all of the project's stages, of course, are contingent on available funds, and the Outer Loop is an off-system road, so no money will be coming our way from the State. An off-system roadway is one that is not designated on the State Highway System and not maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation. Other examples would be a city street or a county road.  

It's a long-term project to help keep the long-term growth of the county churning along.

For this example, we used the 15 or so miles the project's Segment 3, from U.S. 75 west to the Collin-Denton county lines.  Building this section to completion -- service roads and main lanes all at one time -- with money being no object, the entire project could be completed in as little as 20 years.

Planning: 2-3 years to work through alignment options and settle on a general alignment. This involves public meetings and environmental assessments.

Planning/Preliminary Design: 2-3 years to develop a final alignment; involves gathering of detailed survey data for design and preparation of right-of-way documents for each parcel.

Design/Row Acquisition: 3-4 years to develop design plans for one of the two service roads. Right-of-way acquisition would be performed during this period as well. The eminent domain process on this size of a project would take 4-5 years to complete.  The design is essentially completed ahead of the right-of-way acquisition process.

Construction of first service road: While the service road would be completed in phases with sections opened in as little as 12-18 months, it could take 5 years to complete all 15 miles of this phase. 

Design/Construction of second service road: The next step in the process would most likely be construction of the other service road. It is difficult to estimate when traffic flow would call for that construction but if we assumes 10 years from the time the first service road is completed, another 3-4 years for design and another 5 years for construction of the second service road would follow. Roughly, it could be 30-35 years before both service roads are constructed.

Design/Construction of main lanes: These are much more involved from a design construction standpoint than the service roads. Again, while it is difficult to estimate when traffic will necessitate their construction, we used 10 years from completion of both service roads. The design process would take at least 4-5 years, as there would be numerous bridges, overpasses and interchanges in play. Construction could be finished in phases but, best guess, 7-10 years would be needed to complete the entire 15-mile section of main lanes. So, this segment would wrap up about 20-25 years after both service roads are completed. 

Bottom line to see the entire system laid down? 50-60 years, from start to finish.​