FORT WORTH (KRLD) - If you've been on Interstate-35W, north of the Fort Worth mixmaster lately, you know very well that it's been a slow ride.
Construction in the area clearly has frustrations mounting. One commuter lamented, "Late to work all the time (with all the) bumper-to-bumper (conditions)."
Another driver said, "It's been a real hassle. I'm trying to get somewhere in the car -- I mean, right over there, it's just one lane."
But the fact of the matter is -- for many years, I-35W north of downtown Fort Worth has constantly ranked as one of the most congested roadways in the nation.
"Anyone that's driven on it has been stuck in traffic, and so there was really this need to try to figure out how can we better manage mobility in these narrow corridors in urban areas," says Heather DeLapp, a spokeswoman for the company managing the North Tarrant Express project.
The old infrastructure is being rebuilt along the 10.1-mile stretch from north of Interstate-30 to the Highway 287 split.
"That's redoing all the frontage roads that are there, all of the main lanes. And then it's adding in the additional capacity with the managed toll lanes in either direction," DeLapp says.
The overall project costs $1.6 billion. It had been years in the planning, and dirt started flying last fall.
DeLapp says while the project will take years to complete, it is still on schedule despite the wicked weather of this past winter. "Through the design-build process, we're able to take a major mega-project like that, and we're able to speed up construction. So we anticipate to be finished by 2018."
Businesses Feeling The Short-Term Pinch
While the construction project is moving along as expected, it's creating some hardships in the short term.
Workers at a cell phone store on 28th Street, just off I-35W, say business has been slow since construction started. "This store usually gets busy, but ever since this construction started happening, sales have dropped dramatically."
And employees are feeling the pinch. "Since our sales have been dropping, our pay has been dropping. Our commission has been dropping also, which is not good for us at all."
But DeLapp says as evidenced by similar projects, the short-term headache should yield long-term benefits. "I know that people are seeing reduced amounts in their commute times by utilizing some of the toll lanes and the general purpose lanes."
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