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March 26, 2009

Texas can only afford to rebuild part of DFW Airport area highways

Funnel AUSTIN -- State transportation officials acknowledged Thursday that they’re still more than $500 million short in the funding they need to rebuild seven Grapevine highways, a massive $1.5 billion project known as the DFW Connector.

Even so, the Texas Transportation Commission selected a private developer to get started on the project, possibly by late 2009 or early 2010. The project includes rebuilding parts of Texas 114, 121, 360 and 26, as well as slivers of farm roads 1709 and 2499 and Interstate 635.

A team of developers led by Omaha, Neb.-based Kiewit Corp. and San Antonio-based Zachry Construction was selected as the best value. Members of that team will negotiate with Texas Department of Transportation officials over the next six months to build as much as possible with the roughly $917 million to $997 million available for the project.

The first phase calls for at least the reconstruction of main lanes from eastern Southlake to central Grapevine, and the addition of at least one managed lane – a hybrid toll and carpool lane – in each direction. State and local officials say they also hope to build an additional toll lane in each direction and add main lanes north of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

Dozens of Dallas-Fort Worth officials were on hand Thursday to meet with commissioners and about the DFW Connector and many other road and rail projects planned through 2030. If they were disappointed by the lack of funding to build the entire DFW Connector project right away, they hid it well, offering only remarks of thanks and congratulations to those who helped get the project – more than 10 years in the planning – to this point.Tate

“Our people know it’s coming. They’re ready to begin,” Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate said after the commission meeting in Austin. “It’s time to take the money we have and get it started.”


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they say they can only afford to build a portion of the roads up here, yet I just got back from Austin and they are widening 35 up in rural areas that did not need the roads widened. maybe they should quite wasting money widening highways that do not need it, and fix roads that do need to be fixed.


Andrew, ALL of I-35 needs to be widened. I would say it's been an issue longer than the mess in Grapevine has. I travel from FW to San Antonio a few times a year, and it's a major hassle driving on 35, even through those rural areas, since it's a ridiculously busy and important highway in this country. For example, many of those small towns have vehicles towing trailers that need to enter the highway, but the entrance ramps are built to 1960's-era standards and don't give enough distance for acceleration, along with the fact that sometimes there are zero frontage roads. It's not their fault, however, and this can cause a big slowdown (an unsafe one at that) in order for traffic already on 35 to let those vehicles enter the road.

All this being said, I do wish the TTC and TxDoT would learn to be more streamlined and responsible with the meager funding they receive to build these roads. I am a supporter of toll roads, but I question the necessity of so many of them. I bet if the funding falls short for the Funnel, they still will figure out a way for the toll lanes to be built, at the expense of one or two free lanes.

Gordon, thank you for your efforts in getting these important transportation issues to our attention.

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