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Denton’s city engineer decided that construction of a roundabout at Scripture and Bonnie Brae needed to be done before the rest of the Bonnie Brae widening project gets underway to better handle the traffic detours that are to come. Officials explained the project to the neighborhood Thursday night, now that the construction contract has been awarded. The roundabout is supposed to be finished by the start of school in the fall.

Denton has been pushing through so many road construction projects recently that city officials liken the experience to ripping off a bandage.

But one of biggest tugs is yet to come.

Beginning Monday, June 10, crews will close the intersection at Bonnie Brae and Scripture streets. From University Drive to Interstate 35E, Bonnie Brae will open to local traffic only.

The closure will last 12 weeks to the end of August. And, when the work is done, the city will have its first true roundabout intersection, at Scripture and Bonnie Brae.

The city’s traffic engineer, Pritam Deshmukh, said the closure will help crews work quickly and safely to finish the job.

“We want to get done and be out of this area,” Deshmukh told about two dozen residents at a neighborhood meeting Thursday night.

The $3.4 million project is expected to reduce the crashes and injuries within this heavy juncture at the foot of McKenna Park and Rayzor Ranch Town Center.

But some residents remained skeptical. Denton has some traffic circles, but none engineered to both slow motorists and keep large volumes of traffic moving. True roundabouts are also designed to provide safer crossings for pedestrians and cyclists with their own islands and dedicated zones.

Deshmukh said the intersection could be equipped with extra crossing lights, but because motorists must slow to 15 mph at the roundabout, they will be able to more readily see and stop for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The official detour for the construction project sends motorists down University Drive to I-35E, but some residents are concerned it won’t be used by locals. Denton drivers like the quick jog from north to south on Bonnie Brae Street, and they might pick their own route through the neighborhood, residents said.

Many motorists detoured to Stanley, Thomas and Ector streets during recent closures for utility work along Bonnie Brae Street.

Residents at the meeting are also concerned about several smaller street construction projects planned in the area, including the rebuilding of Thomas and Scripture streets.

The city’s streets department isn’t supposed to start those projects until the work on the roundabout is nearly done, Deshmukh said.

In addition, Deshmukh said engineers would monitor traffic and adding calming devices if neighbors report that motorists are still cutting through the neighborhood after a week or two.

Although the city plans to close Old Bonnie Brae Street as part of McKenna Park improvements, the engineers will keep the old bypass open during construction so that neighborhood traffic westbound on Scripture can turn right, get past the construction zone, and proceed onto northbound Bonnie Brae.

The closure likely means re-routes for DCTA buses, too. Both Route 7 and UNT’s Discovery Park buses travel Bonnie Brae Street. The closed area includes stops at Panhandle, Emery and Charlotte streets.

DCTA spokeswoman Adrienne Hamilton said the agency is aware the road work is coming, but officials are still gathering information before announcing any possible service changes.

“We ask that all DCTA riders are sign up for our Rider Alerts and visit RideDCTA.net to stay up-to-date on any agency service updates,” Hamilton said.

City Engineer Todd Estes told City Council members several weeks ago that the roundabout is part of the long-range, phased plan to widen Bonnie Brae Street from end to end. The engineering staff recommended that the roundabout be completed before any other work is done between University Drive and I-35E in order to ease traffic congestion during the widening.

The city will hold one more public meeting about the project before work begins, from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at the Denton Civic Center, 321 E. McKinney St.

Motorists can practice driving a test roundabout between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the city’s Service Center, 901 Texas St.

More information can also be found at ImprovingDenton.com.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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