TARRANT COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) – Interstate-35W, north of Fort Worth, will be shut down for the entire weekend.

A spokesperson with the Texas Department of Transportation said it’s the first time the agency has closed the highway for such a long period of time.

I-35W is one of the most congested roadways in the state, carrying 140,000 drivers on an average day.

All north and southbound lanes, near the U.S. Highway 287 intersection, closed late Friday night.
 TxDOT plans to have them reopen by 6 o’clock Monday morning.

Construction crews are tearing down the old ramp from I-35W northbound to Hwy. 287 northbound.
 The new ramp, replacing it, opened Thursday night. 
It will accommodate the widening of the highway, a $1.6 billion project that will ultimately double its capacity.

For now, though, drivers are bracing for a difficult weekend.
 “It’s gonna be a mess. I’d say within a five-mile radius around here all the roads are going to be backed up. It’s gonna take hours to get where you want to go,” said Mike Grenfell, who works in the area.

“Now I’ve got to reroute my entire route all the way… I’ve got to go way out of the way,” said Ken Porter, a resident who lives near the construction.

I-35W is a major thoroughfare for drivers crossing the state, so TxDOT has billboards flashing warnings of the closure all the way from Waco to Denton County.

Until the highway reopens early Monday morning southbound motorists will be detoured to U.S. 81/287 northbound to Harmon Road, to U.S. 81/287 southbound, and back to I-35W southbound. Northbound motorists will be detoured to the frontage road at Basswood Boulevard, and back on to the main lanes.

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