Celina and Prosper officials seem to finally be on the same page about the future of an overpass set to be built on Frontier Parkway.
The bridge will be part of a large reconstruction project, anticipated to cost between $16 million and $21 million, which is planned for a well-traveled section of the roadway between Preston Road and the Dallas North Tollway.
No construction schedule has been developed and work has not yet begun on the project, which has been in the planning and development stages for several years.
However, when it is complete, Frontier Parkway (also known as FM 1461) will be a six-lane divided roadway and will feature an overpass above the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rails.
On Jan. 12, both municipalities passed similar resolutions about the project during their respective council meetings.
Both are helping to finance the project. Celina will contribute $3.97 million in Collin County bond funds to the project, while Prosper will allocate $3.65 million.
An additional $4.35 million will come from Regional Toll Revenue funds. The Regional Transportation Council and Collin County agreed to contribute $4 million to cover a funding gap in the cost of the project as it was originally proposed.
Given current traffic demands, only four of the six lanes will initially be built on Frontier Parkway, along with an extra-wide median that can be altered to accommodate the additional two lanes in the future.
“I think everyone sees the need” for the road improvements, said Gabe Johnson, director of engineering and public works for the city of Celina.
“We get complaints all the time,” Johnson said. “The road is not in the best of shape. It’s a very high-traffic road from the aspect that you’ve got a lot of houses going in at Light Farms. You’ve got Prosper ISD on the south side … and it’s a main connector for citizens coming south to get on the DNT.”
Prosper Town Manager Harlan Jefferson said, “Overall, I think the two cities really acknowledge growth in our community and they’re working together to try to get ahead of the traffic issues and avoid kind of the growing pains, if you will.”
The issue of the bridge, however, has long been a point of contention between the cities.
“At some point in time, Prosper said … their understanding was the project did include a bridge. Celina says that it did not include a bridge,” Johnson explained.
He cited the results of a warrant analysis conducted by the North Central Texas Council of Governments which determined that the bridge was not needed based on numerous criteria.
“The numbers weren’t there to justify it on our opinion, which is why we’ve been against it,” Johnson said.
In its resolution, Celina agreed to support the construction of the bridge with certain provisions, including that it must feature a two-lane service road on its north side which borders the city, so as not to hinder growth along what is envisioned there to become commercial property.
While Collin County has agreed to maintain the bridge for the first five years following its construction, the question of who would tend to it beyond that timeframe has been the matter of much debate.
Celina Mayor Sean Terry said the maintenance issue had been a huge concern.
“I don’t feel like – and the council doesn’t feel like – it’s fair to our citizens to pay the burden of having that bridge there built and maintained until we get some tax base out there,” he said.
In its resolution, however, Prosper did agree to accept maintenance responsibilities for the bridge.
“We’re excited about the resolution and the progress the two cities are making to address the current and anticipated congestion in this area,” Jefferson said.
With the resolutions in place, Terry said it appears both cities agree “it’s time to move forward. We understand the road needs to be fixed and we feel like we’ve accomplished our goal to protect our side of the road.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Collin County Commissioner Susan Fletcher, who represents the area and has been working with Prosper and Celina in an effort to get the Frontier Parkway improvement project underway.
“I know that the bridge maintenance was one of the sticking points, and as far as I’m concerned this is a necessary project and I’ve worked very hard to get some consensus between the two cities,” Fletcher said. “I think that’s something that the cities are going to have to continue to work out, but that’s what happens when you have a mutual-boundary road.”