Story by: Gates Lopez

All around Fort Worth, and especially north Fort Worth, people have been experiencing a big change in their lives because of the construction on North Loop 820 and Interstate 35.  This construction spans from the I35/820 east split to North Richland Hills and Hurst.  People who work, go to school, go shopping or go out to eat and travel in this area have most likely faced major traffic problems getting to their destinations.

A 4-mile portion of Interstate 35W, beginning just outside of the Fort Worth limits stretching to the Alliance area is part of a planned expansion that will nearly double capacity, stretching the freeway from four to eight lanes, according to the Texas Department of Transportation and reported by WFAA.  The Star-Telegram reported that motorists will experience delays when traveling on I-35 between the Alliance area and downtown Fort Worth until its completion date of 2018.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price stated in the Star-Telegram, “It’s time to move dirt in the name of mobility, safety and commerce for our residents and businesses.”

According to a report released by the state transportation department, the stretch of I35W in northern Tarrant County is the most congested roadway in the state.  Janet James with WFAA reports that traffic on I35W gets so bad that some employees on the outskirts of Fort Worth would rather stay at work than drive in the traffic.  Roman Dominguez told WFAA, “You don’t want to be around there after 4 p.m., and now that school has started, it’s twice as bad.”

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a 4-mile portion of I35W in northern Fort Worth wastes more than two million hours of drive time a year.

Tony Hartz, a spokesperson for TxDOT told WFAA, “Because we are going to rebuild what’s there to new standards, people might have longer entrance ramps and exit ramps because the road dates back to the 1960s.”

The Fort Worth Business Press reported that currently 144,000 vehicles use this massive transportation hub, and it is expected to increase to 270,000 vehicles using this freeway by 2017.

Jon Davis, a Fort Worth resident, has to drive through the North Loop 820 traffic almost daily to get to his job at Golfsmith in Hurst.

“There is a lot of stop-and-go traffic,” he said.  “At times it doesn’t even move, which makes getting to work on time very difficult.  Lately, it takes me 45 minutes to an hour to travel 20 miles, which used to take me only 15 minutes.  Some mornings, I have had to call in to let my managers know I will be late because an accident has impeded traffic even more.”

Five Star Ford, a car dealership located on the intersection of Rufe Snow and North Loop 820, has felt the negative impact of the construction.

Early in the construction process, Five Star Ford was forced to give up part of its property in the front entrance of the business for the freeway expansion. Now, the traffic issues continue to affect the business.

“During the peak traffic hours, I can’t help but notice a downturn in customer traffic,” said Jeff Smith, a sales person at Five Star Ford.  “It is hard for the customers to get to us; they get frustrated by the traffic, and the construction makes selling cars that much more difficult.”

As reported by WFAA’s Janet James, construction issues will continue until completion. “Although this major construction on I35W in Fort Worth didn’t begin until mid-2012, unfortunately for commuters, the project won’t be done until 2018,” she said.

James reports that construction plans make it clear that traffic headaches are going to continue for a while.  Fort Worth and surrounding residents are reminded by the professionals and officials in this story that the ongoing delays caused by the construction will be a thing of the past eventually.  The completion of these construction projects should relieve congestion, she said.