The widening and double-decking of Interstate 35 North won’t begin until 2022, but area leaders are already looking forward to what they call a much-needed transportation project.
There will be traffic snarls, they acknowledge, but the eventual expansion will be worth the headaches if the work alleviates expressway congestion.
“It will be a trying time because chance, and traffic work, has always been a concern for our region, but we will find solace in the fact that when it is completed, we will be much better suited to handle the growth that our region has been receiving,” said Live Oak City Manager Scott Wayman.
The Texas Department of Transportation announced in April it was awarding a $1.5 billion contract to Spanish multinational company Ferrovial, through its subsidiaries, Ferrovial Construction and Webber, to improve I-35 between Cibolo and Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
The design-build project from Loop 410 South to FM 1103 will take six years to complete, and feature construction of nearly 10 miles of nontolled roads, 18 miles of new elevated main lanes, and reconstruction and widening of the Loop 1604 main lanes and bridges.
The I-35 project will also bring high-occupancy vehicle lanes — designed for buses or other transport carrying a driver and passengers — to the Metrocom.
HOV lanes have already been added to U.S. 281 north of 1604, and to the Interstate 10 West corridor.
I-35 in Texas is one of the nation’s busiest interstate corridors, with traffic on the increase from northeast San Antonio to Austin.
According to TxDOT, the average daily vehicle count, on a yearly basis, is expected to rise from 169,017 in 2019 to 393,200 by 2044.
“This project will relieve traffic congestion through Selma, while helping meet the needs of our growing region,” Selma Mayor Tom Daly said.
Jose Carlos Esteban, Webber’s president and CEO, said in a news release: “I-35 serves as a main artery for travel and international commerce in Texas, in addition to the project itself bringing jobs and economic opportunities to Texans over the next six years and beyond.”
“We’re proud to have been selected to work with TxDOT on this vital project that will help keep Central Texas moving forward safely and efficiently,” Esteban added.
In Texas, Ferrovial Construction U.S. and Webber have partnered on five major design-build projects totaling more than $6 billion in construction, including three major freeway projects in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Officials in I-35 corridor cities said expanding the highway from Fort Sam Houston to FM 1103 will help reduce roadway clogs and improve public safety.
They also said the upcoming construction work will create more traffic headaches.
“Traffic on I-35 continues to increase and congestion will inadvertently happen,” Schertz Mayor Ralph Gutierrez said. “A project of this magnitude will provide many challenges to our daily commuting but ultimately the necessary relief. Our city is looking forward to the future completion of the project.”
Daly in Selma echoed Gutierrez’s sentiments: “With our region being one of the fast growing in the nation, it makes a lot of sense to make this expansion project a priority.”
“We know there will be some hiccups due to the construction, but I think this expansion will be a huge asset for Selma and the region,” Daly added.
Wayman lauded TxDOT’s planning efforts to curb traffic bottlenecks.
“I have no doubt that if Ferrovial was vetted by TxDOT and their leadership, that they were the best choice of contractor for the job,” Wayman said.
For project details, visit tinyurl.com/a7xeec7j.