Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune
Because Texas’ infrastructure is still suffering from growing pains, construction cranes are once again on the horizon across the Lone Star State. Drivers on I-35 in Fort Worth and San Antonio can expect more major construction projects in the near future.
The Texas Transportation Commission approved a Request for Proposal for a $2 billion improvement project for I-35 in San Antonio. The project will expand lanes for about 15 miles of the interstate from 410 South to FM 1103 in the Cibolo and Schertz areas.
The project will add two elevated lanes — e.g. upper decks — between the interstate’s main lanes and frontage roads through Bexar, Comal, and Guadalupe counties.
When completed, the elevated lanes will have one high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane and two general-purpose lanes going in each direction.
Amongst other improvements, the project will also add additional bridges connecting 410 South, 410 North, Loop 1604 West and Loop 1604 East.
The northeastern portion of I-35 in San Antonio contains three of Texas’ most congested roadway segments, which makes the construction one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s top priorities.
Despite the state’s enthusiasm, only two portions of the project are currently funded. Crews will begin breaking ground near the 410 North/I-35 intersection some time next year.
After that, construction will begin on the stretch of I-35 between 410 North and FM 3009. The remaining portion of the project, from FM 3009 to FM 1103, remains unfunded.
The state is expected to put the contracts for the FM 3009 to FM 1103 construction out for bid within 6-12 months. Estimates put the cost of the unfunded portion at around $345 million.
A few more major projects can be found farther north on I-35, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The transportation commission has approved a $1 billion expansion of east loop 820 in Fort Worth.
The project will widen the highway and add additional lanes and continuous frontage roads between the I-20 interchange on the south and Brentwood Stair Road on the north.
In Carrollton and Farmers Branch, the Texas Department of Transportation has set aside about $500 million to add additional lanes on the south side of I-35 East between I-635 and the Denton County line.
In Denton County, TxDOT plans to spend about $840 million to widen I-35, build a new interchange with State Highway 380 and add frontage lanes to both sides of the interstate.
The new frontage lanes will run from the I-35 West/I-35 East split to the Cooke County line.
Since these projects are just the tip of Texas’ Unified Transportation Program iceberg — a $77 billion, 10-year program — drivers across the state can expect to spend more time stuck in traffic.