Drivers on US 380 through Denton County from Denton to Frisco can expect major road improvements to get underway this summer, as a three-year $140 million project ramps up to relieve congestion and improve safety.

With the construction of major developments, including The University of North Texas Frisco in the northern half of Frisco and the Professional Golfers Association of Frisco headquarters along the US 380 corridor, officials say expanding the roadway is imperative when combined with explosive population growth.

Work began in April to relieve congestion that commonly occurs along 15 miles in Denton County. Officials expect US 380 congestion near the upcoming Omni PGA Frisco Resort will nearly triple by 2045.

Denton County Commissioner Ryan Williams, whose precinct includes Frisco, said improving US 380 has “been long overdue.”

“We have experienced an amazing amount of growth along [US] 380, and more is coming. Widening [US] 380 first and foremost makes this a safer highway and will undoubtedly save lives,” he said. “Beyond that, it will save our residents a lot of valuable time getting to and from work and play.”

The Texas Department of Transportation project includes widening US 380 from US 377 to just west of the Collin County Line in Frisco. In addition, five bridges will be constructed at key intersections along the corridor.

Work also began last year on a $20.6 million project to add a raised median with left- and right-turn lanes from Loop 288 to the US 377 and US 380 intersection in Denton.

Both segments of work are expected to be complete in 2025, TxDOT officials said.

A ‘critical’ corridor

Out of more than 1,800 roadways measured in Texas, a 2021 study from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute ranked US 380 from US 377 to the Dallas North Tollway as the 43rd most congested roadway in the state.

US 380 carries about 46,000 cars a day, according to TxDOT data. This is almost as much as I-35W in Denton, which experiences about 48,000 cars a day. US 380 is the largest east-west corridor in the county, Williams said.

Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said he has spent years hearing people talk about the problems on US 380 as the road people take to get to work or access services, not just in Frisco but across the region.

“That’s a major growth corridor for the city of Frisco,” he said. “When we hear residents complain about traffic in Frisco, quite frankly, a lot of our traffic issues are people driving through Frisco to get to other places.”

And traffic is expected to increase. The new Professional Golfers Association of America headquarters in Frisco is opening later this year and will be located off US 380, west of the Dallas North Tollway. The first tournament will be held next year, and the Frisco Senior PGA championship will be held in 2027, the mayor said.

“We’re going to need the ability to move hundreds and thousands of people ... to host these types of events,” Cheney said. “[US] 380 and that infrastructure being complete is a critical component.”

While Frisco adds projects, the county overall is increasing in population. Between 2010 and 2020, Denton County grew more than 36%, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. TxDOT studies show the population in the area of US 380 from I-35 to the Collin County Line has grown 92% from 2010-20 and is expected to continue to rise at a rapid pace.

“It’s just a critical project,” Cheney said.

Work being done

Crews are working to build an additional travel lane in each direction from US 377 to the county line, add a raised median to reduce crossover accidents and also build five grade-separated interchanges. These will be constructed at Navo Road, FM 720, FM 423, Teel Parkway and Legacy Parkway.

“[The interchanges create] a ‘super street’ that is the next classification of roadway below a freeway,” Williams said.

Construction will be divided into three phases, with each phase set to last about a year, said TxDOT Public Information Officer Kendall Kirkham Sloan.

In the first phase that began April 20, traffic switched to the north side of US 380 as crews work on the south side of the road. In the second phase this will alternate, with traffic on the south and construction on the north. The final phase will consist of grade separations and construction of the raised median, she said.

“Each phase will focus on working on the entire span of the project at once,” Sloan said in an email. “Intermittent lane closures and reductions of lanes on the cross streets can be expected, but there will be no long-term reduction to the number of lanes of US 380 during construction.”

Connection to Collin County plans

Collin County officials are discussing a proposed freeway bypass for US 380 within county limits that would divert traffic from US 380 to a freeway running north and then traveling east before coming back south and rejoining with US 380 at FM 1827 in McKinney. A recommended alignment has not been decided, however.

In contrast, there is no need for a bypass for US 380 between Denton and the Denton County/Collin County line, Williams said.

Cheney credited the city’s foresight and the ability of City Manager George Purefoy to ensuring Frisco’s right-of-way along US 380 was established and that development did not occur on top of what could be future work zones.

“We were really pushing to get the Frisco portion done, because we were prepared for it, and our citizens are wanting it and needing it, as are our neighbors to the north,” Cheney said.

For the project underway now, the main negative economic effects will be felt in Cross Roads and Little Elm, Williams said. Denton County is working with those communities to redevelop the economic corridor for those cities somewhere away from US 380, he said.

“Not making improvements to the corridor will slowly choke out future growth and reduce quality-of-life issues,” Williams said.

When the project wraps up, however, a widened US 380 will also allow for more business growth and benefits along other parts of the roadway’s corridor, he said.

The road ahead

While the expansion project is a “massive undertaking,” there is still more that needs to be done to relieve congestion on US 380, Williams said. To that extent, Denton County commissioners have begun the preliminary phase on the Outer Loop project. This is a planned freeway project that will extend east from the Denton County and Collin County line south to Rockwall County. The loop is expected to help relieve traffic on US 380 and SH 78, he said.

As for US 380, a winter public meeting from TxDOT showed officials are recommending a limited-access freeway for the road from the Collin County line to I-35, but it will be some time before that project happens.

At the meeting, TxDOT officials said projections show that by 2045, if no additional improvements are made to the US 380 study area beyond the in-progress project, congestion is expected to increase more than 200%. That is three times what was experienced in 2020, the presentation stated.

“There are feasibility studies in Denton County looking at converting US 380 to a freeway section, but those improvements are far into the future,” Sloan said. “The current project under construction is intended to address today’s congestion and enhance safety immediately.”

Cheney said he expects the bridges in the ongoing project to “significantly” help traffic flow not only in Frisco, but also Prosper and Celina. However, he also forecast that US 380 will need to develop into a highway system, similar to the Dallas North Tollway and SH 121, “probably sooner than later.”

“Our residents and the region will see significant improvements in traffic flow just from [the bridges] being completed,” Cheney said. “These interim steps are important along the way, but ultimately, yes, we need the full build-out to meet the long-term need.”