I-35 Express Project Should Bring Needed Relief

By L.P. Phillips | @LPPhillips

KRLD — The trip between Denton and Dallas, for many, is a necessary, daily beating. There are 28 miles of snaking lane changes, daily closures, pavement that is often temporary and wavy.

And then there are the drivers: Type-A’s in a hurry, not to be deterred by the unpleasantries of construction. They don’t have time for delays and will cut in and out of traffic at will if it gives them an edge and shaves a couple of minutes off the trip.

“It’s not fun at all.” says Charlie Beatty of Denton. “Traffic is pretty bad.”

Denton is Beatty’s home town. He’s lived there since the ’50’s and he has never seen traffic like this. He stares at I-35E as he fills up his car. He would just as soon stay away from that mess.”I don’t

go down there with all that construction. Unless it’s to pick up the grandkids.”

Grandpa isn’t the only one who has had his fill of the grind. Blair Mitchell of Denton detests the drive to Dallas.

“It’s awful. It’s because of the construction and the potholes,” he says.

The end isn’t exactly around the corner, but it’s on the horizon. And the closer it gets, the more Denton County Judge Mary Horn can taste an end to the griping.

“It’s going to be worth it. It really is.”

Horn swears she isn’t putting lipstick on a pig. On a balmy summer day she boasts the relief new lanes will give.

The I-35 Express project is massive. 28 miles of added lanes and new bridges weighing in at $4.8 billion. Pavement Horn says is absolutely necessary due to the fast growth of Denton County. Business has been good. But with new industry come the workers, suppliers and customers along with their cars and trucks.

I-35E has been a bottleneck. The project is in Phase I and is to be done by the middle of 2017. Horn can only hope more lanes mean fewer drivers banging fists on the dashboard and cooler temperatures behind the wheel.

“Everywhere that it is currently four lane divided, it’s going to be six lane divided. And everywhere it is currently six lane divided it’s going to be eight lanes divided.”

To put it in perspective, Horn points to the bridge over Lewisville lake. As things stand it is three lanes in each direction. But as any daily I-35 Warrior knows, there is construction on the west side. That will be the southbound side. The entire bridge will become northbound lanes.

The project will also feature managed lanes. Dreaded by some because they are tolled, Horn argues the managed lanes are an option for those in a hurry. Even with the new lanes on each side, drivers who are willing to pony-up are guaranteed a speed of at least 50 miles an hour, or the ride is free.

Skeptics note another year and a half will wrap-up Phase I. Phase II is still on the drawing board.

Meantime Denton driver Blair Mitchell is resigned to put up with potholes and lane changes. He sighs as he looks at the traffic that plods along. “I have no choice.”

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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