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Wise to learn about I-35E project

The 35Express project, designed to bring long-awaited and much-anticipated improvements to Interstate 35E between Denton and Dallas, will be massive in terms of scope and budget, and it will impact thousands of residents and businesses in every community along the 28-mile route.

In fact, odds are that just about everyone who lives or works in our area is going to feel the effects of the project in one way or another.

The plan is to 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. Construction of the project’s first phase is expected to begin at the end of October, officials tell us.

Representatives of the 35Express project have been busy spreading the word about pending construction, so most area residents are probably familiar with the basic plan and its major components. However, we fear that few people are actually ready for the traffic congestion and resulting headaches that the onslaught of construction will bring.

That’s why we urge residents of Denton and surrounding areas to attend a public outreach meeting on the northern segment of the project — the section from U.S. Highway 380 to FM2181 in Corinth — that’s scheduled for 6 p.m. today in the Denton City Council Chambers at City Hall, 215 E. McKinney St.

As part of Phase I in the northern segment, an additional lane will be added in each direction and the bridges at North Texas Boulevard, Corinth Parkway and Post Oak Road will be reconstructed to add additional capacity, officials stated in a press release.

During the meeting, 35Express representatives will discuss key elements that will impact commuter and residential traffic through Denton during construction. Information offered during the session could go a long way in helping residents prepare for the project launch and the months of construction work that will follow.

Officials have been telling us that the benefits of the upgraded traffic flow along the I-35 corridor will far outweigh the inconveniences of construction, and we believe that to be true. However, the road ahead promises to be a difficult one and we can’t afford to overlook any opportunity to learn as much as possible about the process.

The meeting is the second of three planned to provide information for commuters, residents and business owners. The first meeting, on the southern segment of the project, was scheduled Monday in Farmers Branch, and the third session, which will address the middle segment (Lewisville, Highland Village, Hickory Creek and Lake Dallas), is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at MCL Grand Theater, 100 N. Charles St. in Lewisville.

In recent meetings, including a presentation to the Corinth City Council last week, 35Express representatives have cautioned commuters to anticipate traffic delays and long drive times.

Officials have said that information on lane closures and reductions will be provided as cities along the route are notified by AGL Constructors, the agency contracted by the Texas Department of Transportation to manage the expansion project.

As one official said recently, they want to make sure everyone knows what’s coming before it gets here.

Commuters are encouraged to check the website or Facebook or Twitter for daily traffic updates once the project gets rolling. To learn more about 35Express and what to anticipate, visit the website.

This project won’t be easy, but as state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said recently, the alternative is continued gridlock.

We’ve had enough of that.