North Texas Daily

TxDOT Issues

TxDOT Issues

TxDOT Issues
August 08
15:08 2014

Joshua Knopp / Senior Staff Writer

The U.S. Interstate system hasn’t been around forever.

The structure was first authorized in 1956. President Dwight Eisenhower had been inspired by the way the German army used its country’s infrastructure in the latter stages of World War II, and he wanted something similar in place in America.

Construction on the legs of the interstate system in the Dallas/Fort Worth area began in 1959, with the exception of Interstate 30, which took over for the already-existing Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike in 1977. Interstate 35, Interstate 20, Loop 820 and Loop 635 were all originally planned in 1959.

In 1960, when current road structure was designed, the metroplex boasted 1.8 million residents. Now it has 6.6 million.

The area’s population growth has only accelerated, and it’s still ramping up. According to U.S. census data, five of the 15 fastest growing cities in the country are just north of Dallas, including Denton.

So if you see construction, this growth is what spurred it, according to Tony Hartzel, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT.

“What we’ve got is a lot of population growth and people coming to north Texas and Texas in general,” he said. “There’s no question there’s a lot of construction right now. But, obviously, there’s a lot of demand.”

TxDOT has 10 major current construction operations in the metroplex. This includes corridor projects on both legs of I-35. The West leg frequently grinds to a complete halt on both sides between North Tarrant Express and Loop 820, and the entirety of I-35E was recently approved for lane expansions that could be perpetual. TxDOT is adding one extra lane to the entire 20-mile stretch from Denton to North Dallas while, at the same time, raising money to add another lane.

With a significant commuter population, it could soon be imperative to find alternative routes to-and-from Denton.

The A-Train

Hartzel’s recommendation, the A-Train, connects to Dallas’ DART rail system. A full day’s ride from the Denton station to downtown Dallas takes about an hour and a half one-way and costs $10, though there are package deals for students, but it doesn’t include parking passes. The Downtown Denton station is on Hickory Street just east of the Square, a little over a mile away from campus. Shuttle buses run to-and-from the station.

While relaxing and always on time, the A-Train should come with a few warning signs. Firstly, it is always on time. Being a minute or two late means being up to half an hour late as you wait for the next train. Another thing to keep in mind is this option effectively eliminates night classes — the last southbound train leaves at 9:20 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Other roads

Because of Grapevine and Lewisville lakes, there are only a couple of roads in between the two legs of I-35 that get all the way to Denton.

Locally known as Fort Worth Drive, the mostly one-lane Route 377 will get students into Fort Worth in about an hour during good traffic. The route goes through Argyle and downtown Keller and Watauga. Farm Road 2499, which extends down from Teasley Lane, is much wider, often featuring three lanes of traffic, but it only goes to Grapevine before rejoining the highway system.

From Dallas, the best option to avoid I-35 is to go north all the way to Route 380, which becomes University Drive. Roads that extend from North Dallas to the route include Josey Lane, Dallas North Tollway and Preston Road. This route is potentially much longer, even from the northernmost parts of Dallas.

The construction on I-35E is just getting underway, and traffic could be negotiable there. Hartzel said commuters could check www.35express.org for updated traffic information.

Feature Image: Frustrated drivers have made several impromptu exits along the route. Photo by Joshua Knopp/Senior Staff Writer

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