MCLENNAN COUNTY, TX — Waco's least-known freeway has a bit of a popularity problem... it's too popular.
Interstate construction downtown recently made it even more popular, affecting central Texas commuters and travel times.
The I-35 project comes at a critical time, as it coincides with our central Texas population boom... that means more drivers in more cars, looking for faster routes.
Ken Sorley says it began with a trickle...and then arrived like a flood.
it's a good thing he sells boats at Marineland Boating Center in the shadow of the new freeway.
He says traffic on Loop 340/Highway gets heavier by the day, especially now that interstate 35 construction sometimes has downtown traffic tied up at almost all times of the day.
"Oh it's exponentially increased, every day.... so i think our traffic is up about 25 % up from 3 or 4 years ago," He explained."
Apparently no one has started officially counting cars here, but anyone with a pair of eyes can tell the "far 40" don't seem so far no more.
"what we're seeding is, it's putting heaver traffic on some of our other thoroughfares through Waco , Waco drive loop 340 around Waco drive," said Sgt. Patrick Swanton of the Waco Police Department.
The new, interstate-quality south leg rarely has backups...but just a few miles past the Brazos to the north, traffic stops quick.
You'll find the biggest bottleneck where it joins highway 6, where old construction meets new construction.
This former four-way stop now has a traffic light which causes backups that can stretch back toward the river and beyond in the mid-to-late afternoons.
past that, this 4-lane highway slims down to a 2-lane road.
If you live or work along the two lane section, you've long-since given up on left turns.
Last year, Improvements for the north loop moved to the top of the local priority list.
That should help.
Even so, Highway 6/Loop 340 remain central Texan's best I-35 option .
”People that travel, particular people that travel all the time like you see the trucks going by., They know that time is their enemy so they're going to make the best time going around, said Sorley.
Because in a rising tide of cars and trucks, you lose a little commute time with every new vehicle on the road.