Waco-area I-35 construction reaches midway point

The Texas Department of Transportation continues construction on I-35 into 2021. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By Vivian Roach | Desk Editor

TxDOT began shifting traffic from the old I-35 northbound lanes to the newly constructed lanes Wednesday night at 7 p.m. This shift follows the southbound traffic shift that occurred last week.

Shifting the flow of traffic to the new lanes signals that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has reached its halfway point in the Waco portion of I-35 construction.

Drivers can expect to see temporary closures to northbound Baylor exit and entrance ramps from 12th St. to BUS 77. These closures will last until Friday while temporary exits are built, Brad Springman, Enola, Pa., senior and student intern for TxDOT said.

“That’s really exciting for the I-35 project in Waco because that kind of signifies the halfway point in the project now that the northbound traffic will be shifted over,” Springman said. “Crews will work overnight to shift all the traffic northbound over. Then they’ll start this week deconstructing the bridges and all the old traffic heading north.”

The northbound frontage road, from 14th St. to Eighth St., will also open up to one lane for those who want to avoid I-35. This road goes by Fuego, Hawk’s Hot Chicken, Schlotsky’s and Common Grounds.

“That’s super exciting for Baylor students because that’s been closed for a while,” Springman said.

Schlotzsky’s Store Manager Michelle Gaines said the nearby construction did slow down business for some time.

“We’re picking up now, but it has slowed down for a while. And I guess once it’s all done it’ll be worth it, but it’s slow business now,” Gaines said.

Right now, front driveways to these businesses are still under construction, but alternatives are open.

“Our front driveway isn’t open, but they did open up that side, and the traffic is flowing,” Gaines said. “I mean it gets crazy out there sometimes, but it is flowing, and the businesses around us have picked up also.”

These first shifts to the newly constructed road have paved the way for the next phase in the I-35 construction. Springman said next week will mark the beginning of a new portion of the highway construction now that the old roads are not in use.

“You’ll start to see more changes starting after Thursday, because now there’s no more traffic on the old highway,” Springman said. “So they’ll start to destroy all that and then rebuild it all. Starting with the bridge that kind of crosses right through campus, where Church Under the Bridge used to meet, they’ll be taking that down starting next week.”

Next steps specifically include the Brazos River Bridge removal which will start next Monday and last through late summer, TxDOT said in an update. The MLK Bridge removal will start next Monday at 7 p.m. Roads under the bridge will close and are expected to reopen Friday, March 26.