Frontier Parkway construction prompts change in traffic pattern

The+detour%2C+classified+as+part+of+Prairie+Crossing%2C+for+Frontier+Parkway+sits+in+the+morning+before+school+traffic+begins.+The+detour+was+opened+for+the+public+Aug.+5+to+make+up+for+the+construction+of+the+Frontier+Parkway+overpass+and+expansion+of+the+road.+The+detour+will+be+used+for+the+remainder+of+the+construction%2C+which+is+targeted+to+finish+in+the+summer+of+2023.+

Kaya Miller

The detour, classified as part of Prairie Crossing, for Frontier Parkway sits in the morning before school traffic begins. The detour was opened for the public Aug. 5 to make up for the construction of the Frontier Parkway overpass and expansion of the road. The detour will be used for the remainder of the construction, which is targeted to finish in the summer of 2023.

Kaya Miller, Reporter

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The recent construction project on Frontier Parkway has forced drivers to encounter an unanticipated detour just as school kicks off. This hitch in the commute routine added with the jump from 2,800 in-person students last year to 3,300 in-person students has fostered a substantial increase in traffic-related frustration.

“From the time we get out (of school), it’s about twenty minutes for my bus to actually get out of the parking lot,” sophomore Reaves Lo said. 

These issues prompted deputy superintendent Greg Bradley to direct traffic around the auditorium entrance on the first few days of school to assist students, parents and faculty with traffic “hot spots.” As drivers face the lines of vehicles, for the time being, Bradley recommends they wait to leave or enter the school parking lot until 4:25 p.m., after most of the traffic has cleared.

The community of Light Farms rests on the north side of Frontier Parkway, which serves as a major road the residents use and others need to get to the high school. On the other side of Frontier Parkway, south of the road, drivers can find Frontier Park and a more recent addition: the Children’s Health Stadium. The community football games draw crowds, and getting to and from stadium events creates major traffic clogging along the two-lane street. 

“I think that when the road is complete if you leave out of the two western exits out of Frontier Park, we’ll force you to go left on the tollway,” Dr. Bradley said. “The tollway bridge will be completed at that time, over the 380, and then everyone that comes out of the community-room side of the stadium, then you’ll go right, right over the bridge. They won’t have to get stuck behind PHS. They can go all the way to Preston.” 

In past years, the intersection of Frontier Parkway and Talon Lane has been a three-way intersection, with one stop sign for those on Frontier Parkway heading east and with train tracks going through the intersection. On Frontier Parkway heading east, drivers have two options: to go straight, eventually reaching Preston Road, or to turn right, following Talon Lane, where drivers pass the west side of the school. 

“At first, it (driving through the Talon Lane-Frontier Parkway intersection) was really stressful,” sophomore Harper Mcintosh said. “It required a little bit of judgment – if you could make it between cars and who had the right of way – but, I guess it gave you new opportunities to figure it out.” 

Over the summer, the road where Talon Lane connected Frontier Parkway to North Coleman Street and the area of Frontier Parkway crossing the BNSF Railroad tracks were closed Aug. 5, about a week before the school year began. With school starting right after the traffic-flow changes, the decision regarding the delay of the start and end time – 8:35-4:04 – by five minutes was made by school officials, who decided the change was needed to ease the stress of both buses and personal vehicles as the construction of the Frontier Parkway overpass began. 

Before these changes, a two-lane detour was constructed, creating a temporary new road from connecting the two sections of Frontier Parkway around the previous intersection of connecting Talon Lane and Frontier Parkway, to ensure that drivers are able to maneuver using Frontier Parkway but also allowing residents from Light Farms to get to both the school and Preston Road. Those who need to get to Coleman Street have to cut through the road east of the high school’s on-site athletic fields: Victory Way. However, the new detour only has a stop sign for Prairie Crossing, exiting Light Farms. With the incoming traffic on Frontier Parkway not stopping, drivers have questioned their safety in the intersection if the detour will be in place for two years. 

“Trying to get out of the neighborhood (Light Farms) can be scary since no one is used to the new road,” Mcintosh said. “It also doesn’t help that the road is so curvy because it makes it harder to judge how far away a car is from you.”

Residents have been expecting construction for the overpass for years as the train blows its horn throughout the day, affecting the residents of Light Farms, prevents people from getting places efficiently with the occasional pass through and forces school walkers to face the train and car traffic. Specifically, the intersection of Frontier Parkway and Talon Lane was an issue as drivers struggled to predict the incoming traffic, without stop signs, heading west or south on Frontier Parkway and Talon Lane heading north, west or east. 

An overpass over the previous intersection of Talon Lane and Frontier Parkway will be constructed and an expansion of Frontier Parkway – Dallas Parkway to Preston Road – to four lanes, and eventually six lanes – though that is not within this project. Aside from the Frontier Parkway project itself, the Dallas Tollway heading into Celina already expanded into four lanes and is currently building a tollway bridge over the 380 going into Celina northbound.

“Victory Way is the new road that is just east of the high school, right by the baseball field and football field,” Dr. Bradley said. “So right now it’s only two lanes, that road will eventually be four lanes as well.”

According to Bradley, all roads surrounding the school will maneuver much more effectively by 2023. The changes should ease Friday night football traffic from Children’s Health Stadium as well as school arrival and departure in all forms of transportation. 

The $22-million project is considered a joint effort of Prosper, Celina and Collin County. The design contract was confirmed on Aug. 27, 2016, and planned to pursue in the winter of 2020, but due to harsh weather conditions, was rescheduled and pursued the summer of 2021. Originally, the finish time range was fall of 2023 but currently, the project is on track to be done by the summer of 2023. 

The project includes the construction of the roads and overpass but also sewage, storm drainage and electric tower relocation. 

“I have been told numerous times that they hope that it’s an 18-month project,” Dr.Bradley said. “So the first six months is really trying to get the part done in front of the stadium and then the bridge is going to start. I’m really hopeful that it’s only going to be 18 months, I’m not gonna hold my breath that it’s an 18-month project.”

For updated project health information visit:  https://app.smartsheet.com/b/publish?EQBCT=d35cb5533db04978aaa45441970cdccf