DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In the next 30 to 60 days a major transformation of a section of North Texas freeway will begin and it will affect your commute for the next five years.
The LBJ Express Expansion is a 17-mile long construction project that will add lanes along the Interstate-35E and Interstate-635 interchange.
CBS 11 News is taking a look at what the future, long and short-term, holds for drivers.
The plan is for LBJ Freeway to be capable of handling 500,000 cars a day, in 10 years.
For a quarter of a million drivers cruising Dallas’ busiest freeway their view, while on LBJ Freeway, is mostly of taillights and headlights.
What they’re about to see is a $2 billion reconstruction that will close off lanes, shut down exits, and spend the next five years developing The LBJ Express.
The project will add 13 miles of lanes extending from Irving to northeast Dallas. Four additional miles of expansions will be built on I-35E, just south of LBJ Freeway.
The new lanes will run below or underneath the current freeway in some sections. The design aims to alleviate congestion, and accommodate commuters who are willing to pay to ride the added roadways.
The LBJ Express is a “cost to cruise” freeway extension with toll road options for users, as a means to help finance the lane project. “Money is lacking, and so as we look to expand these arteries, we also have to look at how they will be funded,” explained Andy Rittler, with the LBJ Express. “Because everything costs money… especially road building.”
That road building could also cost some business operators customers.
“We’re right in the heart of it,” said Johnny Bohannon, owner of Thomas Graphics.
Bohannon’s graphics shop sits along the frontage road of the I-35/I-635 interchange. The business has been there for 40 years. Now, the first part of the LBJ Express project will begin construction just yards from his front door.
“We get so much business in here, there’s no room to park. The guys can’t get in or out,” Bohannon said frustrated. “And if they mess all of this up, its really gonna hurt this business.”
Rittler told CBS 11 News that there is no doubt there will be “an impact” on businesses along the project route. But he said crews working at night and on weekends will help mitigate some of that impact.
There’s no way around it, turning the LBJ of today into an efficient freeway for the future will mean roadblocks for businesses and commuters for the next five years.
Check out animation of what the completed LBJ Express will look like.