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New North Texas Highway Projects Recommended, Others Remain Stalled

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Relief may soon be on the way for hundreds of thousands of North Texas commuters.

As part of a plan approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, new highway projects are now recommended to be widened.

They include portions of State Highway 114 between State Highway 121 and Loop 12, I-35E between U.S. Highway 67  and I-20, I-635 between U.S. Highway 75 and I-30 and Loop 12 between Spur 408 and I-35E.

In all, the North Texas region is spending nearly $100 billion on transportation projects through 2035.

But transportation planners say there are still $40 billion in project recommendations that are deferred until after 2035.

A plan to widen and add HOV lanes on I-30 from downtown Dallas east to Dalrock Road is among the highway projects that remain on the back burner.

TXDOT says on average, there are about 160,000 vehicles each day during the work week traveling  I-30 at the split with U.S. Highway 80.

Mary Harris says her commute to work on I-30 east of downtown Dallas drives her crazy.  “The traffic is backed up and you can barely get through to where you need to go. If there’s an accident, that’s longer.”

Harris says she leaves an hour and a half early to get to work for a ride that should normally take her just half an hour.  “Something needs to be done on Highway 30.”

I-30 is not the only project deferred.  So is Central Expressway, from LBJ north to the Sam Rayburn Tollway in Collin County.

During morning and afternoon rush hour, Steven Welp will tell you the highway often looks like a parking lot.

“Basically, you’re just sitting and waiting, there’s no room to go and you’re stuck.”

TXDOT says there are on average, nearly 230,000 vehicles each day during the work week traveling on Central Expressway at Campbell Road in Richardson.

Lead transportation planner Michael Morris says the problem is there’s just not enough money from the state and federal governments.

Morris says there’s only so much that can be done locally.  “As the legislature meets right now, congress is meeting on the subject nationally, The President gave a speech today on infrastructure, so the three groups above our pay grade understand the importance of this.  Unless we get some breakthrough at the state, Congress, or Presidential initiatives, we can’t move forward on those projects.”

The state legislature is still considering how to increase transportation funding statewide by four billion dollars a year — a fraction of what this area needs.

As for Central Expressway between LBJ and the Sam Rayburn Tollway, there is some good news.

TXDOT has just started a new study on how to expand it — the first step of many more to come.

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