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Agency Changes Construction Plans After Neighbors Cry Fowl

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - It was an outcry that forced a major state agency to radically change their plans.

People living near the Hulen Street Bridge in Fort Worth knew there would be roadwork, because of construction for the Chisholm Trail Parkway. They were told to expect delays, but had no idea it would be this bad.

No one told residents that the high, arching bridge, over the wide, busy railroad-switching yard would become a daily headache for drivers.

“No not at all,” said Rachel Frushour, who lives in an apartment on the south end of the bridge. “And they didn’t even make it seem like it was going to be that bad.”

During the construction period the bridge has been narrowed from two lanes, in each direction, to one lane.

“It’s a big mess,” deli owner Yogi Florsheim said frustrated, as he looked at the rows of barricades and warning signs choking traffic into a single-file lane.

To add insult to injury, a stoplight on one end of the bridge brings traffic to a standstill. Sometimes the cars back up for a solid mile.

You might ask why people just don’t go another direction well; there are no good alternative routes.

“We knew it was going to cause a little bit of a problem in the area, maybe not to this extent,” said Michael Rey, spokesman for the North Texas Tollway Authority.

The NTTA is the agency in charge of the Hulen Bridge project and Rey said the complaints were expected.

“Anytime you go from two lanes in either direction to one you’re going to hear about it,” he said.

NTTA officials also heard about how much longer it’s taking residents to get to work.

“To get over there takes 10 minutes, Rachel Frushour said pointing. “And now it takes from 20 to 25.”

Business owners told the NTTA the construction was a recipe to drive customers away.

“I have people I used to see everyday that I don’t see that often and I ask them why and they say its because they don’t want to come over here and deal with the bridge,” Florsheim said.

Finally, the NTTA heard enough.

Normally the agency builds bridges from one side to the other. Those plans have changed. Now they’ll build the middle of the bridge first. Officials say the change will open up lanes of traffic.

“That’s not the way we’d rather do it,” said Rey. “Its a little more expensive. Its maybe not as efficient but the neighborhood demands it. We heard their concerns and that’s the way we’re going to go about it.”

The changes won’t mean that headaches will end right away. At the earliest, the construction will take until the end of February. But the NTTA insists traffic flow will be much better then.

“I hope so,” Florsheim said. “It better be.”

The Chisholm Trail Parkway will eventually connect downtown Fort Worth to Cleburne. The entire project is expected to open in mid-2014.

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