Street Maintenance

The black lines you may see on many roads are crack sealant.  Crack seal is a normal part of the maintenance process as a preventative measure to preserve the roadway structure. Crack sealing helps stop water and other contaminates from penetrating and undermining the roadway. Ultimately, if untreated these contaminants will cause the road surface to fail before reaching its anticipated lifespan.  While crack seal is not necessarily visually appealing – it is a vital part of the cost-effective maintenance of our roadways. 

When the road appears to be “sinking” or shifting – this is often caused by failure of the sub grade, which, in simple terms, is the ground material below the pavement.  Usually, this is caused by poor soil conditions under the base course of the road. Soil conditions vary throughout the City – with some areas having soils more prone to shrinking and swelling due to moisture. Other factors may include leaking Utility Water or Wastewater lines or Storm Water lines. If you observe a potential roadway concern – contact the Street maintenance department to assess the situation. 

When the City or its Contractor is planning work that could potentially interfere with your daily routine, we want to let you know about it. These door tags/hangers are placed as one way to give you notice.  If you read the entire hanger, it should give specific details about what type of work is being done and how it may affect you. Follow the directions on the hanger and feel free to call the number provided with any questions or concerns.

The City prioritizes street maintenance based on the structural pavement condition of our roadways.  Pavement Condition Assessments are performed city wide and ranked on a scale reflecting the pavement’s structural condition.  We then use these assessments to prioritize areas in most urgent need of repair and resurfacing.  Over the past several years, the City has made a concerted effort around neighborhood pavement maintenance.  Varying soil conditions, initial roadway section designs, and preventative maintenance measures all have an impact on the service life of these roadways.  The City continues to look for and experiment with new products and methods that allow us to get the most out of each dollar we spend on roadway maintenance. 

The flat section/ alteration from original is to accommodate for Americans with disabilities.  The City is required to comply with the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) on new improvements and most modifications to the roadway. To provide for a safe crossing of the driveway for persons in wheelchairs or with other disabilities, the grade cannot exceed 2% cross slope.  This is a federal requirement that the City must follow to stay in compliance with ADA. Current conditions that may not be compliant are require to become compliant once they are disturbed.

In any designated walking path, a vertical variation of more than ½ inch is considered in need of repair.  Please contact our street maintenance department if you have concerns about a specific walking path.

If the water is standing for more than 48 hours, this is considered an issue and the City will schedule a repair. Please contact our street maintenance department to report such locations.

When driveway approaches are repaired, they are typically only repaired within the City’s right-of-way.  The City is accountable to the public for how we spend public funds – and therefore, cannot use public funds on private property.  In addition, the City is not a private contractor and generally cannot provide for, or act as, a contractor for private work.  However, the City can work with private contractors hired by homeowners to coordinate the timing of the public and private repairs when possible. 

Per City Ordinance, a homeowner is responsible for maintaining the portion of the right-of-way between the property line and the roadway or curb.  While the City owns right-of-way adjacent to the roadway, the property owner often views the area as an extension of their yard and often maintains it to a higher standard than the City would be able to maintain.  The City does not have the resources or manpower to maintain enhanced landscaping on every private lot, and the homeowner benefits from being able to use and maintain this area in conjunction with the remainder of their yard – making it a win-win for all parties involved.

Signs/Markings/ Speeding Related

These devices are often requested to help control speeds in neighborhoods.  However, in many cases, these devices can create more problems than they solve.  These devices have a substantial impact on emergency response times; can create unsafe situations for motorcyclists and other roadway users; can cause motorists to lose control of their vehicle; they tend to draw kids into the street to play on; and they can substantially impact roadway drainage.  As a result of the substantial safety drawbacks – currently the City of Round Rock is not installing new speed humps/bumps/tables.  Unfortunately, neighborhood speeding is a driver behavior issue that is most effectively resolved by education and enforcement. 

Traffic signs and markings are regulated by state and federal guidelines to ensure they are used in a manner that is clear, understandable, and commands respect.  While Children at Play signs are often requested to as a well-meaning attempt to help improve safety for children in neighborhoods, such signs can have a negative effect on safety and are no longer supported or permitted by under federal and state guidelines. Children at Play signs do not have a significant impact on the speeds at which drivers travel. In most cases, the sign does not give the driver any information that was not already known and as a result – does not change driver behavior at all.  Most excessive speeding in neighborhoods is by residents who have seen the streets many times and already know that children may be present. However, since parents believe such signs have an effect on drivers, they tend to be much less cautious about keeping children out of the street. Some parents may even misinterpret the sign to indicate that the street is now a safe place to play.  Even at slow speeds – conflicts between children and vehicles are something we want to avoid for clear safety reasons. 

Stop signs are installed at intersections where right-of-way (whose turn it is) must be assigned to ensure the safe and efficient flow of traffic.   Multi-way stop control at an intersection generally must be justified by traffic volumes, safety experience, or other factors in accordance with state and federal guidelines to ensure the signs are warranted.

The City of Round Rock regularly receives requests from residents to install stop signs as a speed control measure.  Federal and State guidelines specifically indicate that stop signs should not be used for this purpose.  This is due to several studies showing that using stop signs to control speeding does not bring about the desired results. When stop signs are used as an attempt solely to control speeding rather than assign right-of-way, roadway users often learn that there is never any cross-traffic and may not respect the stop sign – which can cause unsafe conditions for other motorists and lead to enforcement issues. Furthermore, drivers tend to increase their speed between signs or intersections to compensate for the lost time due to stopping at stop signs. Speeding in neighborhoods often occurs despite clear signs, markings, and roadway designs informing motorists of reasonable driver expectations.  When drivers choose to behave poorly, it often becomes an enforcement issue. 

Under state law maximum speed limits may be set at a prescribed maximum.  These include residential and urban districts being limited to 30 miles per hour and alleys being limited to 15 miles per hour.  Other roadway limits may be dependent on roadway class – for example a numbered highway on TxDOT’s system may have a maximum of 70 miles per hour, while an unnumbered arterial may be limited to 60 miles per hour.  In order to deviate from those prescribed limits, a jurisdiction may do an engineering and traffic investigation.  An engineering and traffic investigation typically looks at the roadway conditions and includes the prevailing speed of traffic during free flow conditions. Most reasonable drivers operate their vehicles at a speed that is reasonable and prudent for the conditions.  The survey identifies the 85th percentile speed, which is the speed at or below which 85% of the motorists are traveling. The speed limit is typically then set within 5 mph of the 85th percentile speed. The speed limit can be adjusted slightly to account for sight distance restrictions, accident history, presence of driveways, and other factors. Setting the speed limit close to the 85th percentile speed ensures that the speed limit reflects the speed that the majority of drivers consider to be reasonable and prudent based on the conditions.

Residents often request that speed limits be lowered with the expectation that this will lower traffic speeds. However, studies have shown that most people drive at the speed they are comfortable with for the given conditions regardless of the posted speed limit. There is little or no significant change in speeds following the posting of a revised speed limit. This is true whether the speed limit is increased or decreased. Also, safety is not improved by establishing unreasonably low speed limits, since this only encourages more variation in vehicle speeds, leading to more conflicts.

CIP / Projects

A road project, even a relatively simple project, has many steps to work through before a shovel ever hits the ground. The process goes from inception (a simple idea of what the project is and where it needs to go), to preliminary engineering, to public involvement, to multiple resource agency reviews, to detailed design, to right of way acquisition, to utility relocations and finally to a bid date and actual construction. Most of these steps are linear and cannot be combined within a schedule. So, it is not unusual to spend 3 to 5 years or more to bring a project to construction from inception.  Much of this process is intentionally set to ensure residents, property owners, and other interested parties are informed and provided opportunity to understand and offer comments on the project.  While some projects are simple and can move quickly through the steps of the process – other projects with substantial challenges often take longer.

The City has a planning document called the Transportation Master Plan (TMP). The TMP outlines the improvements needed for the transportation network to serve the future needs of the City and includes a map of the ultimate roadway network.  The current version is the 2017 TMP and is available on the Transportation Department’s home page at: https://www.roundrocktexas.gov/departments/transportation/masterplan/

The Transportation Department goes thru a public process on an average 5 year schedule to identify the necessary roadway improvements to be included in the City’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP). The TMP establishes the ultimate roadway network for the city and protects adequate rights-of-way to meet future transportation needs for all modes, including cars, pedestrians, cyclists and transit. This council approved document is the guide that is then prioritized as to which proposed projects move forward in the coming years. Most CIP projects originate from the TMP which currently is the 2017 version.

Traffic Signals

Traffic responsive controllers change the lights according to the amount of traffic in each direction. These controllers use sensors (inductive loops in the roadway or camera based sensors) to detect the number of vehicles and automatically adjust the length of the green time to allow as many vehicles as possible through the intersection before responding to the presence of vehicles on another approach.

Traffic signals within defined groups along major roads are coordinated using timing plans with common cycle lengths (the amount of time necessary to display all traffic signal indications at an intersection). These plans control the points in a cycle length when the signals will be red, amber, or green. By controlling the points when main street and side street greens occur, coordinated movement through an area can be achieved.  Timing plans are designed to provide minimum delay and stop time within each group. This does not mean that drivers will attain a green at every intersection, but rather overall network delays/stops will be minimized.

The City of Round Rock uses a couple of different types of cameras at signalized intersections:

Intersection Detection Cameras– These cameras use video technology to detect when a vehicle is approaching a signalized intersection and are typically mounted on each approach to a signalized intersection.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras – These are used by traffic staff to monitor traffic patterns and check on traffic signal trouble calls received, prior to traveling to the location. These cameras are currently actively watched by staff during peak travel periods or when an accident occurs. The cameras can be viewed on monitors at the Traffic Management Center.

The Transportation Department uses its cameras for signal operation and active monitoring only and does not record video from these cameras.

City of Round Rock fire trucks are equipped with a device which “pre-empts” normal operation of the traffic signals. During a pre-emption, a green indication is given to the signal movement, which the emergency vehicle is utilizing. All intersections on fire routes are equipped with pre-emption equipment.

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