By Morgan Harlan | Staff Writer
Beginning on April 28, the Texas Department of Transportation plans to start construction in Waco on Interstate 35 from 12th Street to N. Loop 340. The construction will start with the main lanes on the interstate. The northbound lane and shoulder will be closed to rehabilitate and widen the shoulder and then overlay pavement in preparation for mainline work. The road construction is expected to continue through 2024.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the purpose of the construction is to improve safety, add capacity, incorporate technology, and improve aesthetics. The improvements will include widening main lanes to four lanes in each direction, improving frontage roads and ramps, reconstructing bridges and improving interchanges, adding U-turns, and improving bicycle and pedestrian access.
U-turns will be added at University Parks Drive, MLK Jr. Boulevard and BUS 77. The pedestrian bridge at Eighth Street, which connects Baylor to the other side of I-35, will be permanently removed.
The Texas Department of Transportation hosted an open house meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the changes.
“The construction project is complex considering the significant amount of daily traffic through the core of Waco. We will be working hard to get this job done safely and efficiently while being considerate of the impacts and inconvenience of construction,” according to a handout given at the event.
The construction information packet said to expect a 24/7 work schedule, lane closures, noise and vibrations, dust, congestion, property access, lane closure restrictions for major traffic generating events such as holidays, Baylor University home games, graduation and Spring at the Silos. There will also be work occurring in multiple locations simultaneously to maintain flexibility and progress.
Waco juniorAlex Waitley, a marketing and entrepreneurship major, said the reasons for construction on I-35 are good for the university as a whole.
“Traffic around Baylor can get really intense and stressful. so anything to help with that and make it safer would be awesome,” Waitley said. “Being in Waco this summer does make the construction a little challenging, but I guess if it is for the greater good than it is worth it.”
Interstate 35 spans 505 miles in Texas and 1,569 miles from Mexico to Texas. Approximately 45% of Texans live along the I-35 corridor and $750 billion in goods carried per year. There will be an 82% increase in population along the corridor by 2040.
There will be real-time traffic information updates and travel time estimates. Live camera feeds will be available at www.DriveTexas.org. In addition, travelers can sign up for email updates at My35Waco@tx.dot.gov or they can call or text (254) 313-WACO (9226) for updates. Lane closure notices and incident updates on Twitter @TxDOTWacoPIO.
“We are committed to closely communicating with the community and travelers on I-35 to get you the information you need. Our team is available and encourages you to reach out and stay updated,” said the Texas Department of Transportation on their I-35 information packet.