Drivers battle work on I-35E

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Holly Swartwout says that sitting in traffic on Interstate 35E is often a beating.

She loves her job and spends a chunk of her day going back and forth between her work in Dallas and her home in Denton. In fact, job satisfaction helps her deal with living with inconveniences imposed by 35Express, the long-awaited and now long-enduring highway expansion.

“You take it as you’re going to take it. You see some people screaming and hunched over their steering wheel wanting to run people over and other people who are relaxed,” she said.

Swartwout is one thousands of commuters fighting construction on I-35E and looking forward to its conclusion.

The highway expansion will add general-purpose lanes, managed toll lanes and frontage road improvements from Interstate 635 in Dallas County to U.S. Highway 380 in Denton County.

Existing highway lanes will remain free. 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.

Project funding is a joint effort between the Texas Department of Transportation, the Regional Transportation Council and multiple regional partners.

Work on the Lewisville Lake bridge segment is scheduled to begin in the next week or so. Currently, the widening of bridges at Bonnie Brae Street and Loop 288 is underway, said Kimberly Sims, spokeswoman for the 35Express project.

Sims said additional bridge expansion work continues on the southern bridges at Whitlock Lane, Valwood Parkway, Crosby Road, Belt Line Road and Valley View Lane.

Workers will soon be switching traffic on to I-35E’s new southbound frontage road between Bogard Lane and FM407.

Richard Blankenship, a daily Denton-to-Dallas commuter, said he finds traffic to be a chore to deal with even in the nonpeak hours he is on the road.

“And I never know when there are closures or delays despite road signage or even online notices,” Blankenship said. “Infrastructure improvements are absolutely necessary; however, the project’s undertaking will surely affect people’s lives for years to come.”

Another affected motorist, Terri Jones, said others may rant about traffic, but she thinks the lane closures are not impeding traffic as much as one might think.

“The 30-minute commute from Post Oak [Drive] traveling north is a nightmare. I can drive from Addison to this certain exit in less than 30 minutes, and then have to sit,” she said. “And from Post Oak to Dallas Drive, until they closed the exit, took, on average, over 30 minutes.”

Jones, however said she looks forward to the convenience of a wider highway.

“It will be amazing once it is completed, and I will no longer have to hear, ‘Ugh, Denton? Can you please meet us in Lewisville? Traffic is so bad up through there,’” she said. “Sure will make it easier and nicer for people to travel north to our awesome Little D and spend their money.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.


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