FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The North Texas Toll Authority has officially broken ground on the long-planned, often contested Chisolm Trail Parkway, a 28 mile toll road that will connect downtown with its southern neighbor Cleburne.
Proponents of the road, which will cut through residential and commercial areas of southwest Fort Worth, say the new parkway will ease traffic along Interstate 35-W. And drivers know there is no “good” time to be on the Interstate.
“It used to be, when I was younger, four or five o’clock in the afternoon traffic would hit,” said Fort Worth driver Henry Sepulveda. “But here lately it’s been real bad.”
That’s why planners have worked for 40 years to break ground on the project that ultimately was titled the Chisolm Trail Parkway.
It’s been a slow process involving federal, state, county and local governments.
“It’s frustrating that its taking this long,” said former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr, current chairman of the NTTA board. “I went on the council in 1993 and we were talking about it then and they had been for a number of years.”
The long-term benefits should be less traffic on Fort Worth roads and more traffic flowing through rural areas.
“I think you’re going to see the opening up of a lot of areas for economic development and it’s going to have significant benefits regionally,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Bill Meadows.
Added Barr: “It’s going to relieve a lot of traffic on Interstate 35 and its going to relieve traffic on some of our north south corridors in southwest Fort Worth.”
But the short-term effects are not as pleasant.
Already, construction for the project on Hulen and on TX Highway 183 has snarled traffic. And, as construction ramps up, those delays will spread along the entire urban corridor of the new tollway.
“To build a major highway project in a fully developed city is a real challenge,” Barr said. “So, we’re going to see traffic disruptions continue for a number of months.”