TxDOT on I-35 project: 'We know it's hard' - KXXV Central Texas News Now

TxDOT on I-35 project: 'We know it's hard'


The I-35 construction project continues with what looks like little progress. There has been progress, though. It's just not as easy to see if you drive it every day.

Texas Department of Transportation crews have finished several miles. Brenda Tuck said she's noticed.

News Channel 25 caught up with the woman, who drives from Mission to Missouri at least twice a year, at the northbound I-35 Hillsboro rest stop.

"We've been wintering five years in Mission now," Tuck said. "It's 1,115 miles. So we'll be on a the road two days."

She said that means the break she takes at the Hillsboro rest stop is much needed.

"It's nice that we have such clean restrooms and such nice rest areas to stop at. We really appreciate it," Tuck said.

What she said she really appreciates is how nice I-35 is around the rest stop.

"It's much better than when we first started going back and forth," Tuck said.

That's because TxDOT crews have finished 46 miles of I-35 in Central Texas between Hillsboro and Salado according to TxDOT spokeswoman Jodi Wheatley.

"This section up here where the new rest areas are was one of the first. In fact, it was the first," Wheatley said.

Wheatley said while crews are done with the major work, they still have minor work to do in some cities.

"We're still finishing up small tasks in Lorena, Salado and Belton where things like going in afterward and working on the lighting, or hanging signs," Wheatley said.

Wheatley said that means you might still run into lane closures and traffic jams.

"We know that it's hard. We drive the same roads y'all do and our families drive the same roads and we'd like to have it done too," Wheatley said.

Getting it done has been slow  and tedious for many reasons, but mostly two, wet weather and complicated plans.

"There's been a lot of not normal during this construction process so that kind of knocks holes in your schedule when you do that," Wheatley said. "It's designed to handle what they're projecting to be the traffic load 30 to 35 years out and building for the bigger trucks and faster speeds."

Wheatley said crews have to expand the freeway to three lanes  and convert access roads to one-ways.

"There's a lot of design differences that take longer to do but there's a much better longer lasting road when it's done," Wheatley said.

It's quality, drivers like Kelly Bicknell, said they notice.

"In the spots where they are done, it's really nice. You know, you can see good. The traffic is clear," Bicknell said.

The traffic, however, is far from clear in the spots that aren't done.

"It's really bad where the highway comes together where there is no shoulder to the left of you and it's really, really narrow to the right. It's dangerous," Bicknell said.

Bicknell said he has to drive through that danger at least once a week for training sessions.

"I've been driving through here pretty frequently for the past five or six years," Bicknell said.

While he said he's used to the construction on I-35, he cannot wait to get used to it being done.

"Oh yeah. It needs work. It needs work. You really don't have a lot of options because you gotta halfway keep it open as you work on it so you know it's kind of a ... it's a no-win situation and I guess they're doing the best that they can," Bicknell said.

Wheatley said the two northern most projects in the district, Bruceville-Eddy and Troy, should be done late in 2017. Temple will be finished in the spring of 2019.

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