Construction starts affecting I-35E motorists
The expansion of Interstate 35E is getting busier by the day as crews work in a number of areas to complete the first phase of the 30-mile project.
The ongoing bouts of cold weather in the past two months have not impacted the project much, said Kimberly Sims, a spokeswoman for the project.
“We have had some hiccups with the weather but a lot of times there are other things we can focus on,” Sims said. “But at the end of the day, we still have to be finished by mid-2017. If that means maybe the workday is extended or work schedule extended, that’s what we will do.
“As of right now, we are still on schedule to meet the deadline.”
The 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.
The existing lanes of the highway 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.
Funding for the project is a joint effort between the Texas Department of Transportation, the Regional Transportation Council and multiple regional partners.
Construction that began as “grub work” last September has evolved into work on the expansion of the Bonnie Brae bridge. By now, motorists have been experiencing various nightly lane closures on I-35E at Loop 288 and Mayhill Road as crews prepare to widen those bridges.
Sims said drilled shafts — which support bridge columns — are currently being placed.
“Since these structures will be widened from the inside, the middle of the bridges are being partially demolished so that they can be expanded,” Sims said.
Work on the drilled shafts at the Lewisville Lake Bridge continues and crews are expected to begin paving the new southbound frontage road, north of FM407, later this month.
Further south, in Carrollton, work continues on the expansion of the Whitlock Lane/Sandy Lake Road, Crosby Road and Valwood Parkway bridges, Sims said. The roadway has been re-striped and traffic shifted so that crews can partially demolish the bridges and begin widening them to accommodate the managed-lane system.
Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads lauded the fact that the Lewisville Lake Bridge will be the first component of the expansion project to be completed.
“The expansion and construction of the bridge first was a requirement of the Commissioners Court agreement with TxDOT,” he said. “That will be an instant improvement to mobility. It will add the access roads over the bridge we don’t have now.”
The contractor on the project is AGL Constructors, a consortium that includes Archer Western Contractors, Granite Construction Co. and Lane Construction Corp.
Eads said AGL was doing a great job so far, particularly in communicating the project status with the public.
AGL has set up a public information office at 2420 S. Stemmons Freeway in Lewisville that is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment on Saturday. Officials also encourage people to follow the project online at www.35express.org, through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and through an electronic newsletter. They can also sign up for text alerts.
More than 1,800 people have signed up to receive the e-newsletter, Sims said.
She noted that the public has been very responsive to the various social media updates, particularly if there are incidents happening on I-35E. Motorists want to know what’s going on and how long it will take, she said.
“We encourage people to log on and register for the daily updates,” Eads said.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.