View Larger MapThe Star-Telegram's Scott Nishimura reports that Fort Worth is clearing the way for a huge, mixed-use development near the convergence of East Loop 820, Trinity Boulevard and the Trinity Railway Express.
The Texas Department of Transportation has reached a tentative, $1.6 billion deal with a private developer to expand Interstate 35W in north Fort Worth. The work is expected to begin in mid-2013 and be completed by mid-2018.
The stretch of I-35W in northern Tarrant County is the most congested roadway in the state, according to a report released by the state transportation department in late August.
A draft version of the agreement between the transportation department and the developer, North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners, will be available for public inspection at 6 p.m. Thursday at the TxDot Fort Worth District Regional Training Center, 2501 Southwest Loop 820, Fort Worth (map below).
The developer, also known as NTE Mobility Partners (or NTEMP), is currently developing the $2.5 billion North Tarrant Express project, which includes expansion of Loop 820 and Texas 121/183 in Northeast Tarrant County.
If the agreement is finalized, NTE Mobility Partners will add I-35W to the North Tarrant Express work. The new arrangement will be titled NTE Mobility Partners Segments 3 LLC (NTEMP3).
The new work would include rebuilding existing lanes and adding two managed toll lanes in each direction of I-35W from Interstate 30 near downtown Fort Worth to the U.S. 287 split south of Alliance Airport.
The public meeting Thursday is "a very important step" in trying to get the I-35W improvements designed and under construction by mid-2013, transportation department spokesman Tony Hartzel said. After hearing from the public, the transportation department will then finalize the agreement and submit it to the Legislative Budget Board and attorney general's office.
The transportation department annually produces a report on Texas's "100 Most Congested Roadways," and this year's edition concluded that the I-35W stretch in north Fort Worth was the worst in the state - causing motorists to collectively waste more than 2 million hours.
The improvements to I-35W proposed in the draft agreement would cut that delay by more than a third, officials said.
"Texans have better things to do than to sit in traffic, and that's why we're proud to partner with the private sector to speed up a critical transportation project," Phil Wilson, transportation department executive director, said in a statement.
The developer would build and maintain the portion of the road from I-30 to Loop 820 until 2061 - and keep tolls generated on the managed toll lanes during those years. The state transportation department would build the portion of the road from north of Loop 820 to U.S. 287 at an estimated cost of $234 million, but then turn over that portion of the road to the developer, too.
Funding for the work comes from several pots. The North Central Texas Council of Governments has committed $89.5 million, as well as a possible additional $40.5 million for project contingencies, according to the state transportation department.
The U.S. Transportation Department has invited the developer to apply for a federal loan of up to $537 million under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). The developer would then chip in $273 million in private activity bonds and $446 million in equity.
The agreement would also cover maintenance costs.
If the final agreement is reached by early 2013, the construction could begin by mid-2013 and be substantially completed by mid-2018.
“We have been working together with the state for the past three years designing and building the first phase of the North Tarrant Express project, and look forward to getting this next segment along I-35W in Fort Worth underway,” Nicolas Rubio, president of Cintra US, said in a statement released by the state transportation department. “This is one of the most traffic congested areas in the United States, and we are proud to further serve the cities, region and state through our involvement in this public-private partnership as we all strive toward better mobility and a greater quality of life.”
The Rufe Snow bridge over Loop 820 is only seven years old, but one of its supports is in the wrong position for the $2.5 billion North Tarrant Express project. So, in the next few weeks, crews plans to lift up the enormous structure and place it on a new support. The old support will then be demolished later on.
The Star-Telegram's Terry Evans wrote this story and shot this video:
Motorists in Hurst will be able to move about a bit more freely after hours. City officials have tweaked traffic signals at four intersections so they flash yellow at thoroughfares (and flash red on side streets) between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Nice video by Star-Telegram shutterbug Paul Moseley showing the gradual demolition of the Hurstview Drive bridge on Texas 121/183 in Hurst. It's the latest landmark to go down in a cloud of concrete dust as part of the $2.5 billion North Tarrant Express project.
The seemingly never-ending summer heat won't be the only source of headaches this weekend in the Bedford area.
There's traffic, too.
Forest Ridge Drive in Bedford will be closed in both directions at Texas 121/183 from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.
The closure is needed for partial bridge demolition, as part of the $2.1 billion North Tarrant Express project.
Detours will be available. Southbound traffic will be rerouted along the westbound frontage road to Bedford Road, where drivers can make a U-turn and head back to Forest Ridge. Northbound traffic will be rerouted along the eastbound frontage road to Central Drive, where drivers will can make a U-turn and get back to Forest Ridge.
Sorry for the short notice, but I just got this advisory from TxDot. If your commute includes a journey through Hurst, take note:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Jan. 6, 2008
Traffic switch Wednesday on FM 3029/Precinct Line Road WHERE: Farm-to-Market Road 3029/Precinct Line Road from State Highway 26 to State Highway 121 in
Hurst WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 7, 9 a.m. WHAT: Starting Wednesday motorists on FM 3029/Precinct Line Road will be switched onto the west side of the roadway from SH 26 to Harwood Road. During the switch, various lanes will be closed. Two lanes in each direction will be maintained during the project, and the center turning lane will be closed for the length of construction. Next week motorists from Harwood Road to SH 121 will also be shifted to the west side.
The traffic switch is necessary to rebuild FM 3029/Precinct Line Road from a four-lane road with a turning lane to a six-lane divided roadway with raised curb medians. During construction, access to businesses will be maintained.
he 1.1 mile $9.8 million project will be complete in summer/fall 2010.
- 30 - Val Lopez
Public Information Officer
Star-Telegram Executive Editor Jim WItt is a road warrior. He's keeping an eye on traffic along Precinct Line and 121/183 (aka Airport Freeway). Here is a report from Jim:
At 8:10 on Precinct Line Roadgoing south, a 3-car fender bender as you turn right onto the access road to 183 West. Traffic backed up a few blocks on Precinct as people weaved their way through the wreck. Despite being only a couple of blocks from the Hurst police station, no officer had arrived 10 minutes after the collision ...
Note: Most people don't call Precinct Line by its highway designation, Farm Road 3029. But in keeping with Honkin' Mad tradition we put together a FM 3029 highway shield logo to accompany this report.