DALLAS (CBS 11) - Drivers who use I-635/LBJ Freeway in Dallas should brace for more congestion. The highway will narrow to just three lanes in each direction from the Dallas North Tollway to Stemmons Freeway on June 3. At one time it was five lanes each way, including HOVs and highway shoulders.
Regular users aren't happy with current state of the highway. "Most of the time during rush hour I do try to avoid 635 just because it's so bad." says Jessica Hamilton adding, "and if they're going to start narrowing it down to about three lanes then it's going to be awful."
But the LBJ Express Projects says the change is critical. And a Saturday afternoon rainstorm demonstrated why. There are no shoulders now; and when there were three accidents between Inwood and Marsh ambulances, fire trucks and police cars were stuck in the backup. Traffic came to a standstill.
The LBJ Express says shoulders are needed to work these kinds of accidents, and to allow the project to construct adjoining frontage roads. Some motorists are sympathetic, to a point. "So I think it's kind of good in a sense," says Keith Green, "but at the same time I think it's going to create a lot more traffic than there already is."
Keisha Moore admits accidents can make things worse. "But right now it's a really bad mess. Really bad mess. The other day we saw a seven car pileup on the highway coming in." Her friend, Diana Smith, claims part of the problem is with the motorists themselves. "Until it's done it's going to keep being a problem especially when you've got people that don't want to share the road. Let people on and let people off. "
The LBJ Project has a vision of how the completed project will look, though you see relatively few cars in the animation. Click here to see a new video rendering that shows a full project fly-over of what the completed LBJ Express Project will look like from above.
Still, it's hard to find many current users who are enthusiastic about the 3-lane change. "I don't like the idea at all because I'm already stuck in traffic at 4 o'clock getting back home from work. I'm there two hours moving an inch at a time," Benjamin Hafizovic claims. "So, it's already a mess with what they've got going on now; I don't know what they're going to do with another cutback. That's crazy. It's ridiculous."
"I feel like it could be detrimental," says Matt Calvin. "You have to take every precaution because if you wreck out ... there's not enough room."
The LBJ builders tell us three lanes from the tollway to Stemmons will be the norm while the entire LBJ project is completed: from roughly Monfort Dr. to Greenville Ave by September, from Monfort Dr. to Stemmons in early 2015.
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