For years, it has been a strategic initiative to provide a gateway, monument, or other aesthetic improvement to the US75 corridor that announces and establishes the community identity for the City of Allen. Over $500,000 in Governor's Achievement Award funds (from two separate awards) has been set-aside for this initiative.
Years ago, city staff presented to the Allen City Council a concept to accomplish this long-standing aesthetic goal and has been working on it ever since. As a result, the project has been published in the 5-year Capital Improvement Program since origination. While implementing an innovative and practical solution to enhance traffic flow for the near- and long-term at the Allen Drive/US75 Interchange, the project scope also provides aesthetic enhancement to the US75 corridor.
Reconstruction of the interchange will provide an opportunity to eliminate the all-way stop condition and create islands on either side of the highway that hold potential for community identity and/or public art. Additionally, the scope of the project includes installing decorative enhancements (pedestrian-scale fencing) onto the overpass parapet walls (railing) that span the highway. When finished, the existing height of the Allen Drive bridge with respect to the US 75 main lanes presents a future opportunity for highly visible, vertically oriented artwork. Artwork installation is not a part of the project scope, but has been pitched to the Public Art Committee for future funding consideration.
Over the years, the project concept has undergone review and scrutiny by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) at various levels, starting with traffic control legitimacy and culminating to this day with final design construction drawings nearly ready for bidding and construction. At present, drawings are undergoing final review in Austin to prepare for bidding by the City of Allen.
The project is expected to be delivered in two phases - Phase 1, bid this summer, will include the roadway improvements (roundabouts), decorative paving/sidewalks, and illuminated fencing atop the existing bridge railing. Phase 2, bid toward the end of Phase 1, will include all irrigation and landscape surrounding the new interchange.
Since this project lies within the TxDOT right-of-way, the state agency has final approval authority on any design and construction associated with the project. Our completed design plans and specifications are in the final stage of TxDOT approval and TxDOT has required that we execute an Advance Funding Agreement (AFA) prior to their formal authorization for bidding and construction. This agreement outlines the responsibilities of the City of Allen as well as TxDOT for the project, memorializing that the project is 100% locally funded. Since there are no federal funds involved, many of the provisions of the agreement do not apply. The agreement language is a universal template used by the State, so those items are not applicable, even though they remain in the agreement language.
There is no additional project cost to the City of Allen in executing this agreement. TxDOT has waived their traditional review and management fee for implementation of this project (see Attachment 'C' where local agency is not responsible for reimbursing the State for their costs). Even so, TxDOT still requires the AFA to be executed as symbolic approval of the project to be constructed within their right-of-way.
This action does not approve or obligate the construction on behalf of the City of Allen or encumber funds toward the project, beyond what is already published in the 5-year Capital Improvement Program; rather, this action is the last step for approval of the project by TxDOT. After the project is bid, the project will be brought forth to the Allen City Council for consideration of awarding a bid to construct. Only at that time, will the project expenses be officially approved by the Allen City Council.