Year in review: Progress made on roadway expansions, A-train project

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Transportation in Denton County continues to be a top concern, and this past year the county saw progress on some key projects related to Interstate 35E, the A-train and others.

 

I-35E expansion

Denton County motorists will finally see dirt being turned on the massive expansion of Interstate 35E due to some key 2012 decisions. Among them was in late December when the Texas Transportation Commission chose AGL Constructors as the developer for the 28-mile corridor between Denton and Carrollton. Once complete, the project will improve existing lanes of the interstate, provide continuous frontage roads and construct new, reversible, managed toll lanes to keep traffic moving at least 50 mph.

AGL Constructors is a consortium that includes Archer Western Contractors LLC, Granite Construction Co. and Lane Construction Corp.

Completion of the first phase of expansion is scheduled for 2016 and budgeted for $1 billion.

 

Denton County Transportation Authority

The public had been demanding it since the commencement of the A-train and now DCTA officials were able to provide mid-day rail service. The new service came alongside other bus-related schedule tweaks recommended by DCTA’s staff and approved by the board to increase frequency on routes. The changes took effect in August.

The public was also very vocal this past year about the fate of Friday night service. Members of the DCTA board, such as Tom Spencer, wanted to scuttle the service after the one-year trial period, saying it had not met the goals set for it.

Other board members, like Denton’s representative Richard Huckaby, felt an unrealistic bar was set for Friday night ridership numbers.

He said adjustments should be made, but the service be allowed to continue to try and build up ridership.

The service was voted down at the May meeting, but Bill Walker, a small cities representative who voted against the service, requested it be put back on the agenda for a re-vote. This time he sided with six other board members and the vote passed with five opposed.

DCTA board members approved a slight fare hike for regional rail service to remain in line with Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the T, who were planning to bump their rates. Since the services are in a partnership, DCTA officials say it is important to be in line with their rates.

A-train riders have been riding in style since DCTA received and rolled out its entire fleet of Swiss-made Stadler cars. The cars offer a number of technical and aesthetic upgrades over the older cars that had been leased from DART.

DCTA also put more effort into the rail safety message following a Feb 25 rail accident where a train struck and killed a man who was walking on the tracks. Dee Leggett, vice president of communications and planning for the agency said at the time that DCTA was looking at the new campaign from three angles — engineering, enforcement and education. The agency would review current plans and programs to ensure all safety measures while operating the rail are being followed.

 

Work begins on U.S. Highway 380

Texas Department of Transportation officials announced in May a project plan to widen a seven-mile-plus stretch of U.S. Highway 380 west of Denton.

The nearly $26.8 million project is a combination of work and financial commitments between TxDOT, Denton and Wise counties and other regional partners.

County Commissioner Andy Eads noted the partnership between the state, region and Denton County to move the construction of the dangerous stretch of road forward

TxDOT’s construction documents showed the project would extend from the Wise County line to a point west of FM156. Eventually, highway officials plan to widen the road to Interstate 35.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is blewis@dentonrc.com.


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