The trek up and down Interstate 35E is a monstrous one for commuters. Especially this month.
Construction workers quietly have built and placed “barrel monsters” along the roadway south of the Lewisville Lake bridge to bring some smiles to motorists and attention to safety in work zones for Safety Week.
The creatures were made from orange traffic barrels, safety cones and channelizer cones by workers at AGL Constructors, the firm behind the expansion work underway on I-35E. The monsters have been placed along the southbound I-35E feeder road south of the bridge.
Safety Week was celebrated May 4-10, and the barrel monsters are expected to be taken down Friday. The public is being asked to vote for their favorite barrel monster through Friday on the 35Express Facebook page.
“Our guys worked after hours to put these barrel monsters together in honor of Safety Week and to promote safety in the work zone,” said Kimberly Sims, spokeswoman for the 35Express project.
The monsters include a Godzilla lookalike, a giant worker with a “SLOW” sign and a shark suspended high in the air.
The long-awaited 35Express project will expand I-35E and a segment of Interstate 35, adding general-purpose lanes, managed toll lanes and frontage road improvements from Interstate 635 in Dallas County to U.S. Highway 380 in Denton.
The existing lanes of the highways will remain free, and Phase 1 of the project will add an additional free lane each way from State Highway 121 to U.S. 380, as well as two reversible managed lanes from I-635 to an area around Swisher and Turbeville roads. Phase 1 also includes the expansion of the Lewisville Lake bridge.
Funding for the project is a combined effort from the Texas Department of Transportation, the Regional Transportation Council and multiple regional partners.
Sims said work is continuing on a new southbound frontage road between Garden Ridge and Valley Ridge boulevards. Crews are expected to move highway traffic onto the new pavement this summer.
Once traffic is switched, work will begin on the southbound I-35E main lanes.
Drill shaft placement for the southbound Lewisville Lake bridge is ongoing, and work in the lake is expected to begin after Memorial Day.
Buoys will delineate the construction work zone. The area near the northbound and southbound I-35E bridges has been designated as a no-wake zone for boaters.
Barges will be placed to stage equipment and will take up the equivalent of two lanes. Travel between the barges is prohibited.
“Our team has also proactively met with Lewisville Lake first responders to alert them of the construction zone, safety rules in the construction zone and to discuss enforcement of lake traffic,” Sims wrote in a recent email.
Expansion work at Loop 288, Mayhill Road and Bonnie Brae Street continues. Motorists should expect various overnight closures; one lane will remain open for through traffic.
Finally, the U.S. Highway 77 ramp is expected to temporarily close in June as crews work to rehab the bridge. Prior to closing, crews will construct a detour to maintain mobility in the area.
For more information, visit www.35express.org or www.facebook.com/I35express.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.