Hickory Creek Road

A motorist drives Monday down Hickory Creek Road on the S-curve, the site of several serious wrecks. City Council members on Tuesday agreed to a new east-west alignment of three roads in southern Denton, including Hickory Creek Road, for better mobility but stopped far short of agreeing that they should become a six-lane roadway, at least for now.

The Denton City Council put off a couple of key decisions Tuesday afternoon: a vote on an apartment complex on the city’s east side and whether a new south-side road would ultimately be six lanes.

As the meeting began, Mayor Chris Watts told fellow council members that the developer of a proposed $57 million apartment complex at South Loop 288 and Duchess Drive asked to postpone their agenda item. Later in the meeting, the council voted again to postpone consideration of the controversial project to Feb. 18. The Planning and Zoning Commission previously voted 4-3 to deny a special use permit for the complex, which plans to offer some affordable units in exchange for tax credits.

In addition, while council members agreed to a new east-west alignment of three separate roads in southern Denton for better mobility, they stopped far short of agreeing that they ultimately become a six-lane roadway, at least for now.

Watts called the realignment of Hickory Creek, Brush Creek and Allred roads a linchpin for Denton’s new mobility plan for the south side.

“I’m OK with it especially because it’s not going to happen in the next few years,” Watts said.

City leaders are updating Denton’s mobility plan, and depending on some decisions the city makes, more regional funding could be available for city streets. For now, only Loop 288 is part of the regional mix, according to council member John Ryan.

However, the city was able to get some regional road funding for the widening of Bonnie Brae Street and Mayhill Road in the past few years.

If Denton’s new mobility plan designates the realignment of Hickory Creek, Brush Creek and Allred roads as a primary arterial, as much as $124 million in regional funding could be available for the estimated $155 million in improvements.

Watts said he received an email from the two property owners most likely to be affected by the change, both of whom would likely lose their homes to a new, wider right of way at some point between now and 2045.

Both homeowners understood and were OK with the realignment, he said, adding that the emails were shared with all council members.

Other council members were skeptical, however, that the city would need a six-lane road from Interstate 35W to Interstate 35E on the south side of town.

Council member Keely Briggs asked for an estimate of what the city would pay for a four-lane road without regional help.

“I can’t decide without those numbers,” she said.

Watts said the designation and funding plan are a chance for the city to get ahead of development, unlike other parts of Denton where the city is playing catch-up.

In addition, without designating the road as a primary arterial, the city cannot require future developers to set aside the right of way. In other words, once the traffic comes, the city would have to go back and purchase the right of way to widen the road, said City Engineer Todd Estes.

But council members Jesse Davis, Paul Meltzer and Deb Armintor remained skeptical that a six-lane primary arterial is needed.

They also agreed to designate a new alignment of Ryan Road with Vintage Boulevard as a secondary arterial, even though regional transportation officials showed no interest in supporting it.

City Manager Todd Hileman agreed to find out whether the city loses a chance for regional funding without designating the new road as a primary arterial.

He said he would report that information back to council members when they consider the mobility plan for the southern sector in the next few weeks.

The mobility plan is expected to be presented to the general public for comment later this spring.

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

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