These plans are detailed in TxDOT’s 2020 Unified Transportation Program, the agency’s 10-year plan, which helps to guide the state department.
Overall, the document identifies $77 billion of state infrastructure improvement projects slated to enter either the development or construction phase over the next decade.
“The Texas Transportation Commission takes into account population growth, among many factors, when authorizing projects [to be in the Unified Transportation Program],” TxDOT public information officer Emily McCann said.
McCann said a project is added to the Unified Transportation Program if it is selected by TxDOT, the Texas Transportation Commission or a metropolitan planning organization, such as the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Proposed revisions are drafted every February, and an updated version of the document must be approved by the Texas Transportation Commission by Aug. 31.
“The TxDOT Dallas District considers the transportation needs of the traveling public both locally and regionwide, with safety being the priority,” McCann said. “In addition to larger projects, such as I-35E through Lewisville, rural safety is also taken into account. The district regularly awards contracts to add shoulders and safety upgrades to farm-to-market roads.”
The 2020 Unified Transportation Program includes five projects planned for I-35E through Lewisville. Two of these projects, which entail widening the freeway from the Dallas County line to FM 407 and from FM 407 to Turbeville Road, were included in past versions of the document. The development phase for these projects is expected to run from 2024-29.
The other three projects, however, are new additions to the program. They call for the reconstruction of the interchanges and existing frontage roads at Corporate Drive, Business 121 and the intersection of FM 1171 and Main Street. Construction is set to begin on these projects before 2023.
Lewisville Mayor Rudy Durham, who sits on the Regional Transportation Council as well as the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition, said he works to serve as an advocate not only for Lewisville’s transportation needs but also for those of the entire region.
“I-35E affects a whole lot of people—all of the cities involved from the border of Mexico all the way to the border of Canada,” Durham said. “We have just one part of that, but if our part breaks down, then it doesn’t work north of us, and it didn’t work south. So we have to make sure that our part is being maintained as time goes on.”
Dallas-Fort Worth is the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation, according to the latest information from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Durham said there is no doubt that congestion on the highway worsens as the population grows. But that is not the only factor contributing to congestion and wear-and-tear along I-35E, he said.
“Just go out on I-35, and just watch the trucks,” Durham said. “They’re hauling inventory and supplies for all kinds of places from Mexico to Canada and back again. They’re going everywhere.”
Durham said congestion from large trucks passing through the area will always be a factor for transportation in Lewisville.
“We’re one of the major access points in the area,” Durham said.
Denton County Judge Andy Eads, who is the chairman of the Regional Transportation Council and has been a member of the council for more than a decade, said the improvements planned for I-35E will benefit the region.
“These roadway expansions will make the highway safer and the service roads safer,” Eads said. “We’re making a continuous safety effort by providing additional capacity.”
Safety is not the only benefit that improvements to the highway will provide, he said.
“It will always help economic development efforts when you have improved mobility,” Eads said. “And so people will be able to have congestion relief, which really does help businesses to relocate to the area.”