New Year, New Construction Woes

Construction blocks traffic from crossing University Parks. Mireya Sol Ruiz | Multimedia Editor

By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer

Due to the ever-changing construction sites along Interstate 35, students returning to Baylor for the spring semester will need to become familiar with the closures near campus in order to find alternate routes and plan their travels accordingly.

Kenneth Roberts, public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), is responsible for maintaining public awareness about the status of construction and its effect on Waco traffic for the duration of the project.

“The I-35 Reconstruction Project through Waco is a fast-moving undertaking,” Roberts said. “It is important that student motorists and pedestrians stay abreast of changes to crossing conditions in order to safely navigate the work zones.”

The updates to the highway have recently led to the partial closure of the Fourth and Fifth Street underpasses, as well as the University Parks Drive underpass, all of which connect campus to various restaurants and downtown Waco.

As a result of these closures, heavier traffic on Jack Kultgen Expressway and the surrounding areas is to be expected.

Roberts said that drivers can still navigate from one side of the highway to the other at these underpasses but they should remain attentive. Underpasses located at 17th and 18th Street are also available for those trying to cross.

The only designated crossing for pedestrian traffic is currently at the Fourth Street underpass.

Andi Aguilar, a staff member in the Baylor human resources department, is one of the many drivers who has had to adjust their daily routes due to the ongoing construction.

“I live off of Martin Luther King Boulevard. and I work both at Clifton Robinson Tower and at In-N-Out,” Aguilar said. “I have definitely had to accept the traffic as a part of my daily routine.”

Aguilar said she now has to add at least 10 extra minutes to her usual four minute commute.

“It’s crazy that some people will come to Baylor and experience the traffic from the construction until they graduate,” Aguilar said. “They won’t know it any other way.”

The I-35 construction project began in Waco in Spring 2019 and is expected to continue until Spring 2024, according to the TxDOT website.

Students can familiarize themselves with the day-to-day status of construction by visiting the My35 Waco Project 4B Traffic Map, a TxDOT resource for those who want live updates on closures and traffic conditions. The website is a part of their “KNOW BEFORE YOU GO” campaign to encourage safety and driving awareness.

Students can also email to sign up for project updates, or call 254-313-WACO (9226) for more information.