Dallas—Three years after breaking ground on a project to reduce congestion along Interstate 35 between Interstate 30 and Oak Lawn Avenue in Dallas, the Texas Department of Transportation, along with state and local officials, celebrated the completion of that project in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, Oct. 25, in a parking garage adjacent to American Airlines Center.
“About four million vehicles travel this busy stretch of I-35 each day,” Mo Bur, TXDOT Dallas district engineer, said. “It was consistently ranked No. 8 as [one of] the most congested roadways in Texas by the Texas Transportation Institute. Adding more lanes seemed like the easiest solution, but we had to think outside the box.
“Our goal is to construct these improvements without the need for additional right of way, a solution to add the necessary capacity to improve safety and mobility. Seven new bridges were constructed, which are the equivalent of five football fields.”
This project saw construction of new collector-distributor lanes (on-ramps and off-ramps) running parallel to the interstate, which provide drivers with a safer way to enter and exit Woodall Rodgers Freeway and the Dallas North Tollway. These lanes were the first completed project in the Texas Clear Lanes project, which answers a 2015 call from Texas Governor Greg Abbott to address the state’s 100 most congested roadways.
“There are 29 million Texans today, but the state demographer has said the population will grow to 47 million by 2050,” chairman J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. of the Texas Transportation Commission, said. “Today, the Dallas district has a population of five million and will grow to 9.4 million by 2050. We are projecting Dallas will have increasing needs for transportation solutions. [With the Texas Clear Lanes project], we have focused on five major metropolitan areas: Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston, which are home to 67 percent of Texans.”
TXDOT has several additional Texas Clear Lanes projects already underway around the Dallas-Fort WorthMetroplex:
Interstate 635 East: LBJ Freeway is being reconstructed and widened, and new frontage roads built between Interstate 30 and US 75. Project will cost $1.7 billion with expected completion in winter 2024.
Interstate 35/US 67 Southern Gateway: Highway will be rebuilt and widened to reduce congestion, improve mobility, and make it more efficient. Cost is $666 million and expected to be complete in winter 2021.
Irving Interchange: Improving interchanges at Loop 12, State Highways 114 and 183, and Spur 482 to reduce congestion. This $301 million project should be complete by spring 2023.
Interstate 30 East: Among the improvements between Bass Pro Drive and FM 2642 are additional lanes, bridges, and modifications to existing ramps to improve mobility. This $834 million project is expected completion date is in 2026.
“We have to continue to invest in transportation projects across the state, especially in Dallas if we want to keep this economic engine humming,” Texas State Senator Royce West said. “We’ve got to make sure we keep working together if we want to get the job done.”
Dallas city council member Omar Narvaez extolled the teamworkthis completed project shows between city, county, and state levels of government.
“It takes a lot of layers of governments, organizations,folks to make sure that everything gets done together,” Narvaez said. “The improvements that have happened here are just phenomenal.”
With drivers spending on average 54 hours each year stuck in traffic and with this part of I-35 slowing to around 12 miles an hour during a typical weekday rush hour, these lanes are already being well-received by drivers.
“I-35 East is one of the most-traveled roadways in North Texas,” Commissioner Robert C. Vaughn of the Texas Transportation Commission said. “As anyone who has traveled on it can tell you, it’s been a major traffic problem.
“The Lower Stemmons Project is aimed at making your commute safer. About 27,000 vehicles a day use the northbound ramp from I-35 to the Dallas North Tollway and another 42,000 use the southbound ramp to Woodall Rodgers. That’s a lot of drivers who will benefit from having safer and more efficient options to get where they need to go. Those numbers will only grow as more people move to North Texas, a region which adds about one million new residents every seven years.”