FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The commute for some North Texans could soon be getting better. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has cleared another hurdle in plans to rebuild part of I-35W in Fort Worth.

According to TxDOT Public Information Officer Tony Hartzel, the department has negotiated a $1.6 billion construction contract.

“This highway was built in the 1960s,” he explained. “So, we’re rebuilding it and we’re adding two managed lanes in each direction, all the way from the downtown area, all the way up to US 287. So that will double the capacity.”

The project would cover a 10-mile stretch of highway and apparently not a moment too soon. According to the transportation agency, North Texans waste more than 2 million hours sitting in traffic in the area.

“TxDOTs most recent study showed that I-35W, just north of downtown, was the most congested highway in the state of Texas,” Hartzel said.

Federal and state agencies aren’t the only ones who will end up paying to double the highway capacity — some drivers will pay be paying to ride. In addition to free lanes, the project also includes two managed lanes.

“Which means that there will be a toll affixed to users of those lanes, and it will vary depending on the amount of congestion in those lanes,” Hartzel said.

The deal is not final. While Hartzel says they still have to nail down some additional financing before construction can begin, they expect to begin construction next year.

If everything goes smoothly, substantial completion of the project should be done by 2018.

TxDOT will hold a public hearing on the project on October 11. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the TxDOT Fort Worth District Regional Training Center located at 2501 Southwest Loop 820.

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