For a little more than a week, a 6-mile stretch of OSR in Normangee has been closed to through-traffic in an effort to rehabilitate the road.
The closure from FM 1452 to Spur 3 in Madison and Leon counties is one section of a 15-mile, $17 million project.
Although the section of OSR — Old San Antonio Road — is closed to through-traffic, local traffic and residents will have access to their property. The road also will be open from FM 39 to Spur 3 to allow access to and from Normangee schools.
During the current phase, drivers who would normally travel on OSR between FM 1452 and Spur 3 will now have to use FM 1452 and FM 39 as detours.
The entire 15-mile project will include the replacement and widening of bridges — Little Cedar Creek, Cobb Branch, McDonald Creek, Smith Branch, Navasota River and Navasota River Relief 1 and 2 — and the addition of 4-foot shoulders throughout each section.
“At various locations, we are removing three feet depth of existing subgrade and hauling in all new material; we are replacing driveway and cross culverts throughout the project and, upon completion of the 14.479 miles, we are adding profiled edge lines from the Brazos County line to Midway,” Bryan TxDOT representative Bob Colwell wrote in an email.
The current phase is expected to be complete around November of this year with the entire five-phase project completed by the end of July 2020, barring any schedule setbacks due to weather or other unforeseen conditions.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, eastbound traffic is being rerouted at the intersection of FM 1452 and OSR to follow 1452 to FM 39 and then go north to get back on OSR. Westbound traffic then takes FM 39 south to FM 1452 to follow it around back to OSR.
Signs are in place to alert drivers to the lane closures and detours, according to a TxDOT press release, but drivers should reduce their speeds through the construction area and note any speed limit changes.
With the current section of OSR closed, Blue Moon BBQ co-owner Toni Moon said, the restaurant on the corner of OSR and Macey Road has not seen too much of a lag in business. She has just been missing some of her local Normangee customers who do not want to deal with the detour, she said.
She anticipates there could be a greater impact when the construction moves to Brazos County in the next phase, which is expected to go out for bid in June.
Rachie Robinson travels eastbound on OSR every day to get to her insurance business in Normangee’s downtown area. She now has to add extra time and about an extra 5 miles to her drive every morning and evening with the detour.
Besides just taking another route, she called the traffic “unbelievable” on FM 39 where she has to turn off of FM 1452 to get to work.
“I’ve never seen so much traffic on a local FM like that,” she said. “It’s put a damper on a lot. It’s just not good at all to me, but nothing I can do about it.”
Robinson noted previous construction projects on OSR have not held up because of the soil and the way the ground shifts. After the last rehabilitation project, she said, it took just six months before cracks showed up again on the road.
“Unless they dig up something and put a very good base, I think they’re just throwing good money away,” she said.
The final surface, according to Colwell, will be seal coat for much of the road, but there will be some areas of hot mix surface in high-traffic areas, such as turn lanes and through the center of Normangee.
Despite the headaches that accompany all construction projects, Normangee resident Sydney Traylor said, it will be worth it to have a wider and resurfaced OSR.
“It will pay off and be better for us in the long run,” she said.