County and transportation officials are getting closer to the finish line for the expansion of Interstate 35E — well, the planning phase anyway.
Those officials and members of the 1420 Committee met Friday morning in the Denton City Council chambers to offer an update on where the project stands and what the committee hopes to accomplish during the next couple of meetings.
“I am pleased with the progress the committee has made and pleased with the participation of the state and federal government,” County Commissioner Andy Eads said. “We’re at the beginning of the end of the project, we’re down to the details and how do we handle those details.”
The committee is a requirement of Senate Bill 1420, which authorizes the use of public-private partnerships to fund the expansion of a 28-mile stretch of I-35E between Denton and Dallas.
In his opening remarks, chairman Michael Morris said the committee has not done the best job conveying how the project could be financed. He laid out two phases, 1A and 1B. In Phase 1A, the money that officials have in hand would be used to build parts of the project, including the managed lanes.
Revenue generated from that phase would pay for Phase 1B.
“I see no reason why we can’t capitalize on that revenue stream because it is the intention that money stays in the corridor,” Morris said. “There is no reason why Phase 1B isn’t a matter of months, maybe a couple of years away from construction.”
Committee members discussed a revised plan that Eads said was more fleshed out than a previous plan and still provides additional free lanes during the first phase.
“We’re still being able to realize the free capacity improvements, additional bridge structures, all part of the initial Phase 1A,” Eads said.
A presentation broke the expansion project down into sections and showed clear pictures of what the road looks like now and what it will look like once the work is done.
A point of discussion was on the section at South Loop 288, in light of the congestion that section has seen from past construction projects.
Eads said the committee would try to address the needs of the city of Denton by expanding the free access lanes and modifying the entrance and exit ramps at the loop.
“We have to look at all of that as a complete package,” he said.
Officials received good news this week relating to funding. County officials learned Tuesday that TxDOT had gathered about $2 billion from the federal government, road projects that came in under budget and from its own discretionary funds. Denton County officials hope to receive between $300 million and $400 million to be applied to the expansion project.
The next meeting date for the committee has not been scheduled.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is email@example.com.