We realize that area motorists who are tired of dealing with gridlock on Interstate 35E are impatient, but Denton County transportation consultant John Polster assures us that work on expansion of the highway is ongoing behind the scenes.
Although the official groundbreaking is still months away, officials have been meeting with cities along the corridor and getting paperwork in order as they prepare to get the project on the road.
“The intent is to have the developer selected by November and contracted by the first quarter of 2013, so they can begin working on the project,” Polster told us.
Like we said, we’re all impatient, but it appears that a start date may be getting close. Final requests for proposals for interested construction firms to bid on will go out by the end of July, at the latest, Polster said. Since this is a “design-build” project, the public should begin to see signs that work is starting in various areas along the I-35 corridor fairly quickly after that, he added.
We can’t wait to see construction crews moving dirt along the corridor because that means we will finally be able to start the countdown to the finish line for this long-awaited project. Sure, we know that construction is expected to take four years, but this latest update reaffirms our hope that an expanded roadway will eventually become a reality.
The project was approved back in March when members of the Senate Bill 1420 Committee — a requirement of the bill that authorizes the use of public-private partnerships to fund the expansion of a 28-mile stretch of I-35E between Denton and Dallas — unanimously voted for the final draft of the expansion project for the highway.
The first phase of the project reportedly will add one general-purpose lane in each direction from Interstate 635 to U.S. Highway 380; rebuild high-occupancy lanes into two reversible managed toll lanes between I-635 and Loop 288; build new southbound frontage roads, general-purpose lanes and managed lanes across Lewisville Lake; and move northbound traffic to the existing bridge.
Polster said officials have been meeting with leaders from the cities along the corridor to discuss the project’s first phase and to make sure that plans are in line with what cities along the corridor understand they will be getting in that phase.
The project has an estimated cost of $1.5 billion, but Texas Department of Transportation officials have made it known that they plan to expand the highway within the boundaries of existing rights of way as much as possible. That’s good news for many business and property owners along the route.
Polster’s latest report on the I-35E widening project contained a lot of good news, as far as we’re concerned, and we appreciate the update. Keep the updates coming, John, and be sure and let us know when that groundbreaking is scheduled.
We can guarantee that it will draw a crowd.