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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – NASCAR fans are headed to Fort Worth this weekend for a big race, and that will mean traffic headaches for drivers, starting Thursday and running through Sunday. And, to make matters worse, it is happening in a place that is already seeing regular road delays due to construction.
An estimated 150,000 extra people travel up and down Interstate-35W in north Fort Worth just for race weekend. That alone is usually enough to create traffic backups in the area. Fans from all over the county descend upon the Texas Motor Speedway to check out a number of races and secure their spots in the campgrounds.
This race is even bigger than usual, with NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon retiring after this season. He will be making his final start in Texas.
But now, even when it is not a race weekend, traffic is a mess along the interstate, particularly around Highway 121, Loop 820 and Highway 114. That is because of ongoing road construction. Expansion projects around these interchanges have created a multitude of choke points.
Some of that road construction is part of the $1.4 billion North Tarrant Express project, which is not expected to be completed until 2018.
Police suggested that drivers who need to get around this part of north Fort Worth should use the smaller roads to the west of the Texas Motor Speedway. They should not be as congested as the highway.
Officials are also watching the weather very closely. Rain is expected in DFW on Thursday, when the first NASCAR drivers are set to take the track for qualifying races. Stormy weather will keep them from racing, however. A final decision on that is set to come later on Thursday afternoon.
Some fans arrived early to avoid additional traffic caused by the nasty weather. “We don’t care,” said Brenda Land, a NASCAR fan from La Porte. “We are watching the radar on our phone and everything is way past us down there, or there is just a little bitty strip, so hoping this afternoon it doesn’t get carried away.”
“Just come prepared,” added Chris Akerlund. He is from Colorado and he is glad to not see snow. “It’s just one of those things. If it’s going to rain, it’s going to rain. Hopefully it’s not going to rain on Sunday.”