In response to concerns about highway safety, TxDOT announced in June that six new traffic signals would be installed at highway intersections in Karnes County. The news release said that TxDOT would “have solutions in place in 30 to 45 days.”
Three of the intersections are in Karnes City – at US 181 at FM 99, at US 181 and FM 1353 and at Badger Street/SH 123 at SH 80 north of Karnes City High School.
Three of the intersections are in Kenedy – at US 181 at FM 1145, at SH 72 at FM 1145, and at US 181 at Business Park Boulevard in front of the Walmart supercenter. The plans also include installation of advance warning signs, rumble strips and intersection illumination.
Two months have passed since the announcement was made and construction still has not yet begun on any of the six locations within the timeframe specified by TxDOT in the news release the state agency sent to media outlets.
TxDOT sources say that as a result to changes in planning, they can’t be very specific about exactly when they anticipate the projects will be complete.
According to Ismael Soto, director of trafic operations for TxDOT, the plan initially was for TxDOT to complete the projects using their own crews.
“We were initially going to try to do some the traffic signal installation with our own crews, but our crews are not equipped to do the drill shafts for the foundations or the bores for the signal power and communications,” Soto explained. “Therefore, it was decided to go with a contractor for the entire project instead of a piecemeal approach.”
Soto explained that the choice of using a contractor meant that a full set of plans has to be developed for each signal location.
“This is normally a three month process that we condensed to three weeks,” Soto said. “Concurrently, we ordered the material that usually has long lead times for fabrication and delivery.”
Soto said the contractor has begun work on the project and will do bores and pull boxes first and then move on to drill shafts for the foundations.
“Getting concrete for the foundations will be a challenge because of the short supply in area and the long demand,” Soto said. “The local concrete supplier quoted a day three weeks into August for being able to supply the concrete. We have looked at other alternatives and hope to get the concrete via volumetric mixers (the normal mixers add the water to the concrete at the plant which begins the setting process and limits the time on pouring to about 1.5 hours) from sources outside the county.”
The poles, mast arms and signal heads are in the yard, Soto explained, so the contractor can begin the assembly process.
The contractor is expected to focus on the traffic signals planned for Kenedy first, with the focus on the signal at the Walmart intersection.