About 12 acres of parkland on the shores of Lewisville Lake will be needed for construction of a new bridge that’s part of the Interstate 35E expansion project.
To offset the loss of parkland, officials say new recreational areas will open up and other park improvements are in the works, including a pedestrian walkway across the lake.
“There will be no net loss of recreation lands,” said James Murphy, a manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which leases property to lakeside communities. “The amount of acreage that’s being removed from parkland will be restored in another area.”
Work on the $1.1 billion I-35E expansion project — awarded earlier this month to AGL Constructors — is expected to begin in mid-2013 and be completed in 2016.
The first phase, designed to ease traffic gridlock between Dallas and Denton, will add two reversible managed lanes and one general-purpose lane in each direction along the 28-mile route.
The new bridge will be constructed west of the existing Lewisville Lake Bridge, which will be converted to handle northbound traffic.
The new $261 million bridge, which will accommodate southbound motorists, will begin at Garden Ridge Boulevard in Lewisville on the southern side of the lake.
It will end at Denton Drive north of the lake, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
A key feature of the project will be new pedestrian walkways on both bridges, providing a safe way for hikers and bikers to cross the 29,000-acre lake.
In February, a Hickory Creek man was killed and his wife injured while walking on a railroad trestle bridge that spans the reservoir.
Sgt. Bryan Joseph Geuea, a 32-year-old Army recruiter, and Ashley McCraw Geuea, 22, apparently didn’t hear the horn of an approaching A-train.
In addition to the bridge walkways, other park improvements are outlined in the IH35E Parks Mitigation Master Plan, drafted by TxDOT, the Army Corps of Engineers, Highland Village, Lewisville, Hickory Creek and Lake Dallas.
All of the agencies and cities have to sign off on the plan. Costs for the improvements are included in the I-35E expansion.
Highland Village’s Copperas Branch Park will see the most impact from the new bridge. The 75-acre park is located west of I-35E on the south side of the lake.
“The new southbound lanes will be in areas of that park,” Murphy said.
Copperas Branch, the city’s largest park, has a boat ramp, fishing pier, baseball and soccer fields, and picnic areas.
“We’re anticipating the park being closed for safety reasons for four to five years,” Highland Village City Manager Michael Leavitt said.
At least two baseball fields are expected to be lost to the construction project, he said.
The lost recreation areas will be restored on an undeveloped peninsula on the east side of I-35E, Murphy said.
This area, known as Copperas Branch Park East, is within Lewisville city limits.
Although it is currently inaccessible, officials have proposed building a 1-mile hike-and-bike trail that will loop around the peninsula and open the scenic area for recreational use.
Other planned improvements include a restroom, a parking lot and a trailhead.
The trail will cross under the bridge to the west side of the highway, where a pedestrian bridge will cross a small lake and connect to the Highland Village trails.
Both trails will link to the bridge, providing access to Hickory Creek, Lake Dallas and other communities on the north side of Lewisville Lake.