Work has begun on the final phase of a three-part Texas Department of Transportation project to revamp Northwest Boulevard and ease congestion.

Cliff Bost, public information officer with TxDOT, said crews are currently in the process of installing a new median that runs from the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and Highway 77 all the way to River Hill Drive. The median work is the third and final phase of a $5.7 million project that began in September 2005. Residents have seen the former Farm to Market Road 624 widened and get additional drainage work done as well.

Crews with Haas Anderson Construction Inc. set up concrete barriers Monday that extend from Highway 77 to Wildcat Drive, near Calallen High School.

"That is to give the contractor a protected area to build the new median," Bost said, adding parents and students will still be able to have access to the school and the nearby Northwest Regional Hospital.

Bost said the work that has been done and still remains has been something residents said was sorely needed.

"There's entirely too much conflict with all the businesses out there and people trying to make left turns in there," Bost said. "That just creates more congestion when other drivers have to wait for someone to make a left turn into a business."

Now that the barriers are up, though, there will not be a way to make a left turn into businesses between Highway 77 and Wildcat Drive, including the Wal-Mart Supercenter and the Five Points Shopping Center.

"The only way to access them will be to make a right turn in and right turn out," Bost said.

Once the median is complete, though, a turning lane will be available to get into either business. However, left turn opportunities will be limited, Bost said.

"People will just have to get used to these new traffic flows," he added.

After the initial median work between Highway 77 and Wildcat Drive, the final part will be from Wildcat Drive to River Hill Drive. Crews will be working in that area to do initial site work to prepare for the final phase of the median project, so drivers are asked to be cautious when traveling down that stretch of road.

All work along Northwest Boulevard is tentatively scheduled to be completed by August, Bost said.