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I-35E meetings help smooth way

As the 35Express project becomes more of a commuter reality, questions are plentiful about how it will affect traffic, property owners near the interstate and much more.

The community meetings — a trio of them — were scheduled to brief the public on the Interstate 35E now 30-mile expansion through Denton County and to hear about concerns.

Denton’s meeting in the City Hall council chambers was standing room only — clearly demonstrating the hunger for information about a project that will have direct impacts on their lives from now through at least mid-2017.

Charles Holmans and his wife, Priscilla, are indicative of the many residents in the Denton County area, in suggesting that while they appreciate the Texas Department of Transportation’s presentations, they just want to know how the project will affect their neighborhood.

“All the traffic coming south on 35E sees Pennsylvania [Drive] as an exit. All those people that pull off are not residents of Denton. They are just trying to get south and beat the traffic,” he told the group of TxDOT officials and project managers.

Toll amounts, motorists’ use of toll lanes and the effects of expansion on area roads and neighborhoods topped the list of concerns about the $1.4 billion project that will add an additional free lane each way as well as two reversible managed lanes.

Queries about the remaining properties to be bought for rights of way also sit atop residents’ and business owners’ minds as they plan their lives in the coming years. At present, TxDOT officials indicate they still need to buy a number of properties along the I-35E corridor, but have bought what is needed for the first phase.

In short, the project 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.

Construction is expected to begin Monday on the southbound frontage road near FM407 in Lewisville on the same day the final community meeting is slated. That meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater, 100 N. Charles St., in Old Town Lewisville.

The community meetings are a good idea — one we’d suggest TxDOT plan throughout the project. Listening to people’s concerns, addressing them and educating about the next steps can only make this project go smoother.

It’s not easy to grow and change. Sometimes it’s bumpy, frustrating and time consuming.

But as long as everyone is communicating, it’ll be an easier ride for all involved.