TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) - Construction of a massive highway redesign in southeast Tarrant County will soon get underway.
The $1.6 billion project will widen approximately 11 miles of I-20 and I-820 and reconstruct the I-20, I-820 and U.S. 287 interchanges.
It's the largest investment in transportation infrastructure in the history of TxDOT's Fort Worth district.
"The magnitude of a $1.6 billion project is something that has not been seen," said David Salazar, the TxDOT Fort Worth District engineer. "It's one of the first of its kind."
State and regional leaders broke ground on the Southeast Connector today.
According to TxDOT, the area this project is targeting is one of the top 100 most congested chokepoints in the entire state. The goal is to improve current traffic issues and make it safer for drivers.
"There's congestion on a regular basis, even in hours when you wouldn't think there would be congestion," said State Rep. Nicole Collier. "So this is a welcome opportunity to expand our capacity."
The project will upgrade the I-820, I-20 and U.S. 287 interchanges to a more efficient design, which means drivers that want to stay on I-820 or U.S. 287 will no longer have to merge with I-20.
I-20 will be widened to 10 lanes from I-820 to U.S. 287, and I-820 will be widened to eight main lanes from I-20 to Ramey Avenue.
"You've got the replacement of a 70-year-old, four-lane 820," said Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. "You've got the elimination of the mega weave that occurs on Interstate 20, and you've got the upgrade of the U.S. 287 project."
According to TxDOT, 250,000 cars drive on that stretch of highways every single day. That number is expected to grow to 375,000 in the next 20 years, and they believe this rebuild will handle the increase.
"I promise once we get to that final product, it's going to alleviate congestion and get traffic flowing through here a lot quicker," said Salazar.
Drivers will have to endure about five years of construction first.
"I'll be glad when they get through with it, because it's bad," said Fort Worth resident Willie Mae Simmons.
Major construction work will begin early next year. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2027.
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