Contractors will be installing equipment at the traffic signal located at E. Continental Boulevard and S. Kimball Avenue on Thursday, March 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to create the City’s first “Smart Intersection.”
The traffic signal will receive upgraded vehicle detection and a new controller to aid with data collection and incident monitoring as a part of the City’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) initiative.
Upon implementation, City engineers and technicians will be able to receive alerts as soon as an issue arises with traffic signal equipment or intersection operations. They will also be able to document the change in traffic patterns while travel restrictions and guidelines are in effect.
These devices are being loaned to the City temporarily for a pilot implementation, free of charge.
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Construction on N. White Chapel Boulevard between SH 114 and Emerald Boulevard has been a major topic lately. Road closures, lane switches and major construction have all had some type of effect on our commute to school, work or just day to day activities. In order to understand what is going on, let’s take a dive into the “Why”.
The Tarrant County region is rapidly growing and as more motorists utilize our roadways, an increase in traffic is expected.
In order to plan for the future growth of the region, the City and associated traffic, the City developed the Mobility Master Plan, which is a component of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. This plan has developed recommendations for roadways, sidewalks and bicycle facilities with the intent of meeting the City’s mobility related goals and objectives.
The widening of N. White Chapel Boulevard and SH 114 and Emerald Boulevard has been a recommended project in the City’s mobility plan for a number of years.
N. White Chapel Boulevard between SH 114 and Emerald Boulevard is a main road that travels through Southlake. Being that N. White Chapel is a highly accessible roadway, it is important that mobility and transportation needs are met. In order to accommodate our residents, pedestrians and the traffic, the City devised a plan to expand N. White Chapel Boulevard.
Regarding the Comprehensive plan, once projects are included as a recommendation, those items can be included in the City’s Capital Improvement Program, often referred to as the CIP. The CIP plan is a five-year plan that includes but not limited to the purchase of construction or replacement of the City’s physical assets, roads and highways being one of them. So how does this all work together? The overall goals and objectives of the Mobility Master Plan and the CIP both help implement the goals and objectives of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. With approved recommendations and funds allocated toward the project, the expansion of N. White Chapel Boulevard has been well underway.
The project involves expanding the two-lane road to a four-lane road divided roadway with a dual-lane roundabout at the intersection at Highland Street.
The project will be completed in two phases, one which is the construction of the roundabout at Highland and the widening of N. White Chapel from SH 114 to Highland and two, the widening from Emerald to Highland. “By increasing the roadway capacity, this will help improve traffic operations and provide safety for residents and visitors,” said Senior Director of Planning and Development Services Ken Baker.
The City will also incorporate aesthetics such as trees, shrubbery, street lighting, trails and other amenities that adhere to Southlake’s street design standards. The project will also include utility and drainage improvement.
The widening is an estimated $10.825 million capital investment in the City’s transportation system.
To date, crews have installed water lines, new sanitary sewer lines, new storm drains, paved portions of the roundabout and paved portions of north and southbound lanes. Council recently approved an Engineering Services Agreement for Phase II of the project which includes landscaped medians, a replacement screening wall on the East side of N. White Chapel along with sidewalks and installation of a traffic signal at Ascot Drive. This will surely improve mobility in Southlake.
Major construction began in 2018 and is estimated to be completed by 2021.
City Manager Shana Yelverton has filed the proposed FY 2018 Budget for City Council consideration.
The proposed budget includes an already approved 20% homestead exemption for homeowners, a steady tax rate, significant investments into safety and security, improved roads and road capacity, and operating dollars for the new recreation center, The Marq Southlake, Champions Club.
Homeowner Tax Payer Relief and Reducing Debt
Seven homestead exemption initiatives have been approved by the City Council since 2009, including the 20% homestead exemption adopted for FY2018.
This 20% homestead exemption is an increase from the 16% exemption adopted in 2017 and marks the highest homestead exemption allowed by law.
“Tax relief for the homeowner has been a priority of the City Council since 2009,” said Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson. “The 20% homestead exemption will provide a reduction in value of $132,400 for an average-valued home in Southlake; this is equal to a 9.25 cent tax rate reduction and is part of the City’s commitment to targeted tax relief.”
The city of Southlake has also been able to manage debt so that 93% of the City’s current tax-supported debt will be retired in 10 years. Through the City’s use of cash and aggressive pay-back schedules when debt is issued, the City has reduced the property tax supported debt by 52% since 2010. The FY 2018 budget provides cads funding for General Fund capital projects.
Safety and Security
For FY 2018, numerous investments will be made into Safety and Security.
“Recruiting, and retaining our police officers and firefighters is the best investment that we can make into Southlake’s continued safety and security,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “We will also focus on equipment needs such as protective headgear and ballistic vests to better equip our public safety personnel with what they need to do their jobs.”
The proposed budget includes funding for police and fire cost of living and merit pay increases, as well as dollars to support the competitiveness of their pay plan in the City’s labor market.
Additionally, City Council will consider budgeting the resources necessary to adjust the pay plan for stronger entry pay during budget deliberations in September.
“The DFW labor market for police officers and firefighters is extremely competitive,” said Yelverton. “Should Council choose to take the extra steps of improving our public safety compensation framework, we believe we will be in a better position to recruit high quality personnel and keep them longer.”
Other safety investments will include improvements to school zones and the City’s cybersecurity as well as enhancing treatments for areas that have seen significant mosquito activity.
This year’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) prioritizes better mobility around Southlake. Projects include the expansion of North White Chapel, from Emerald to State Highway 114, continued improvements to FM 1938/Randol Mill Road and improvements to State Highway 114. There are also planned improvements to Kirkwood Boulevard and the City’s continued commitment to maintaining the roadway improvements.
“These key cash-funded investments into our roads are important to help keeping everyone moving,” said Yelverton. “But we are also focusing funds on better signal timing on Southlake Boulevard and laying the ground work for intelligent transportation systems which, by using current and emerging technology, will help people get to where they need to go.”
The Marq Southlake
The Marq Southlake Champions Club will be a primary focus in FY 2018. The recreational facility will open the fall of 2018 with an aquatic center, fitness area, gymnasium, jog/walk track, indoor playground and an indoor and outdoor turf area. The proposed budget includes funding for necessary staff and operating needs to provide the services that will be offered.
“The Marq Southlake Champions Club will open in the fall of 2018 and it’s going to be an exciting time,” said Yelverton. “As the building is going up, staff will be getting the word out about memberships, hiring instructors and other important information so that we’re ready when the doors open.”
For a complete look at the proposed FY 2018 budget please visit CityofSouthlake.com/FY2018.