Workers have started rebuilding and widening narrow, damaged roads near Midway High School and building wide sidewalks in the area that now has precious few.
Big Creek Construction will widen Mars Drive, from Hewitt Drive to Texas Central Parkway, and Old Hewitt Road from Imperial Drive to Mars Drive. The road project started Monday at the intersection of Mars and Hewitt Drive. By Wednesday, the aged Mars pavement from Hewitt Drive almost to Old Hewitt had largely been cleared away, and work on that initial stretch is expected to last four to five months.
Solomon Thomas, a project manager for MRB Group, said Big Creek Construction will have a year-and-a-half to complete the full project along 1.56 miles of Mars Drive and 0.6 of a mile of Old Hewitt Road.
“Invariably, with a project you find something you weren’t expecting and there may be some time added,” Thomas said.
The Waco City Council approved an $8.5 million contract in September with Big Creek Construction for the road work.
Once the work is complete, wide sidewalks will run along the south side of Mars Drive from Panther Run to Hewitt Drive and along the north side from Old Hewitt Road to Hewitt Drive.
Midway Independent School District spokesperson Traci Marlin said between Midway High School’s 2,400 students, traffic backing up on Hewitt Drive and the various industrial plants and businesses near the school, everyone notices the slowdown around the school.
“The proximity of the Midway Middle School and Midway High School campuses being attached, along with the stadium, there is an extreme amount of traffic going to that one area,” Marlin said. “So improvements are greatly needed and greatly appreciated.”
She also said the road is in noticeably poor shape after years of wear and tear. There is recurring flooding in the area between the high school and middle school buildings, which should be improved by the larger box culverts workers will place under Mars Drive, she said.
Thomas said workers will continue east away from Hewitt Drive and work on the portion of Mars that runs past Midway High School over the summer, which is expected to take four to five months. Work on that segment will involve rebuilding the intersection at Old Hewitt Road, including drainage work.
Once that portion is complete, workers will move back to the remaining portions of Mars Drive between Hewitt Drive and Flat Creek, which he expects to take less time. Finally, they will rebuild Mars between Panther Run Road and Texas Central Parkway and then complete Old Hewitt Road.
“Old Hewitt will be broken into three phases, and so we won’t do any closures on it at all,” Thomas said. “Traffic will always have one lane in each direction.”