Racing fans go to Texas Motor Speedway to watch drivers swerve and try to avoid pileups, but on Texas 114 just outside the speedway that sort of dangerous driving is the last thing most motorists want to see.
But despite massive growth in the far north Fort Worth area, Texas 114 remains a dangerous, two-lane choke point. However, some Denton County officials will announce Wednesday that they’ve given the green flag to a plan that aims to make the highway safer.
"This stretch of road has a rather high level of truck traffic, lots of gravel trucks, and we need to separate that traffic and have more lanes," said Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads, who spearheaded the effort to fix Texas 114.
Eads and other dignitaries will announce their plans for Texas 114 at 2 p.m. today outside the speedway.
A two-lane stretch of Texas 114 from Interstate 35W to Farm Road 156 will be expanded to four lanes during the next 27 months, Eads and other political and business leaders explained. The $15.3 million project is being paid for mostly with Denton County bond funds, and the county’s portion of regional toll revenue from the Sam Rayburn Tollway project in the Lewisville-Carrollton area.
The improvements on about two miles of Texas 114 immediately south of the speedway are the first of three phases of improvements planned for the corridor. The second phase, which officials hope to launch next year, involves expanding Texas 114 to four lanes even further west – from FM 156 to the Wise County line – and a third phase involves the reconstruction of the Texas 114/FM 156 interchange, including removal of BNSF freight railroads tracks in the area.
Fort Worth-based BNSF has already agreed to move its tracks over the next couple of years, Eads said. Other officials credited Eads with advancing the project by holding monthly meetings with property owners, utilities, the speedway and others to ensure the work got underway before the end of the year. The Texas Department of Transportation, which owns Texas 114, also was involved in the talks and is on the hook for most of the estimated $40 million that will be needed to buy right-of-way for road expansion.
But it’s not too steep of a price to pay for road safety, officials said.
For speedway officials, the great concern was getting the project done without making traffic more of a headache for people traveling to events there, especially on busy race weekends.
Part of the negotiations involved the contractor, Mario Sinacola and Sons of Frisco, agreeing to schedule construction around major events such as NASCAR races, officials said.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796