The City of Harker Heights is a thriving community that has experienced the blessing of continued growth for the past couple of decades. Such growth, however, has led to major traffic congestion at a street intersection leading into one of the City’s major economic centers. The existing intersection is four-way stop controlled, and consequently leads to very long delays and queue lengths during peak and non-peak hours. The queue generated by the westbound lane has been known to cause traffic to back up approximately 1,300’ upstream of the intersection.
The City of Harker Heights reached out to long standing teammate, Walker Partners, to help fully understand the cause of the congestion and consider alternative solutions. Walker Partners quickly identified the criteria necessary to assess the feasibility of the intersection configurations. The configuration feasibility was evaluated based a multitude of factors including traffic capacity, functionality, intersection geometry, constructability under traffic, construction schedule, and construction cost.
Walker Partners exercised its tremendous amount of knowledge on local traffic patterns and immediately went to work collecting data, looking for solutions, and opportunities.
The existing intersection geometry included three of the approach legs intersecting at 90°, and the fourth approach leg leaving a horizontal curve at the intersection. The proposed intersection geometrics were a critical concern for this application, due to the extents of the existing development. The existing Commercial Drive corridor is nearly fully developed with site improvements abutting the existing Ring-of-Way on private property, severely limiting the potential for available land for acquisition. Traffic count information confirmed the necessary additional approach lanes and traffic signal would require a significant amount of ROW acquisition, as well as a substantial construction cost. The first was the addition of approach lanes to the intersection and a traffic signal. All of the above characteristics played to the strength of a modern roundabout intersection.
Walker Partners presented its recommendations to the City Council and provided public education in regards to driving and negotiating through roundabout intersections. The City voted unanimously to contract with Walker Partners to provide design and construction related services. Coordination between a multitude of entities was required during the conceptual and final design of this intersection. Walker Partners coordinated relocation of dry utilities, ROW acquisition, and access relocation with property owners. During the design phase of the roundabout, opportunities were explored to further enhance the design. Walker Partners quickly identified the value added with ornamental street lighting, landscape, and hardscape enhancements. The aesthetic improvements will enhance the traffic corridor, and create a local landmark and source of community pride.
Walker Partners has been serving the City of Harker Heights for many years. We deepened our understanding of all local issues in terms of near-term and long-term traffic needs at this intersection to elevate our design from “good” to “great.” The culmination of the sleek design, aesthetic appeal, and inherit safety features of a modern roundabout will be a public asset for the City of Harker Heights for decades to come.
completion date: 2019
location: harker heights, tx