DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s being hailed as a congestion killer, but one year after the opening of the $2.6 billion LBJ Express corridor, how much better off are commuters?
Project leaders say heavier traffic during the rush hour commutes is unavoidable, but they also say in the past year overall congestion is down nearly 70 percent.
For many drivers, their first experience zipping through the LBJ express corridor was a huge relief.
“I went the whole summer driving the express lanes thinking they were the greatest thing since sliced bread,” said Kathy Buckley who drives to North Dallas from Southlake every day.
But Buckley’s morning commute has taken a turn for the worse ever since the school year started and more cars are on the road.
“What’s changed now is the lanes themselves are still as quick as ever. It’s getting off the lanes that’s become a hassle,” Buckley said.
Buckley points to the Coit Road exit as an example where the Express lanes send you right into the middle of traffic getting onto 635 merging from the right and more traffic getting off merging from the left.
“At the Coit exit this past week I’ve spent easily 10 to 15 minutes every day just trying to get off the express lanes,” Buckley said.
But Robert Hinkle with the LBJ Infrastructure Group insists that congestion is inevitable during peak hours, and you’re still better off taking the Express lanes than the general lanes.
“I can tell you this way, if you get on the TEXpress lanes, you’ll get to that congestion at Coit a lot quicker,” Hinkle said.
He points out engineers continue to look for design improvements that could prove more efficient, but he says you can’t judge the success of the project solely by the rush hour experience.
“That 6 to 9 peak in the morning, that 4 to 7 peak in the afternoon, you couldn’t build enough pavement in any peak time, in any congested corridor in the country,” Hinkle said.
Project leaders tell us in the past year, speeds are up by 15 percent across the entire highway.
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