Highway Projects Improve Driving in Tarrant County

By Stacey Doud | DFW Newsflash | July 2021

Arlington—The Arlington Board of Realtors hosted the Southeast Tarrant Transportation committee’s (SETT) general membership meeting on Wednesday, July 14. The committee holds meetings monthly in different locations, so all of their members can participate.This month’s meeting centered on the theme “What’s Moving in Tarrant County.”

The Fort Worth District, which includes Jack, Wise, Palo Pinto, Parker, Tarrant, Erath, Hood, Somervell and Johnson Counties, encompasses almost 7,000 square miles, over 9,000 lane miles of system roadways. The district serves around 2.6 million people, roughly 2.3 million registered vehicles, six area offices and ten maintenance offices.

Carl Johnson, P.E., Fort Worth district engineer, presented information about active transportation projects in his cumulative area.He touched on some of the programs the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) are working on for public safety.

The “On the Road to Zero Deaths” Program is working toward lowering the death toll on Texas roadways. Since Nov. 7, 2000, Texas has experienced at least one death on its highways and byways every single day of the year. The Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) directed TxDOT to work toward the goal of reducing the number of deaths on Texas roadways by half by the year 2035, and lower the number to zero by the year 2050 by preventing motor vehicle crashes.

According to Johnson, the TTC allocated $600 million in the Fort Worth District for safety projects for 2020-21, based on the fact 271 people were killed on the highways in 2020. He broke it down as follows: 42 deaths because of no seat belt, 60 because the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, 24 distracted driving fatalities, 25 speed-related, 69 motorists were run off the road, and 26 head-on collisions. Sixty-four fatality accidents occurred in rural areas; 9 in posted work zones. There were 38 motorcyclist’s and 48 pedestrian’s deaths.

Johnson also explained the many projects that are either completed, in progress or will soon be in progress to make driving in the Fort Worth District more efficient by clearing up areas that traditionally back up during peak hours.

The “Texas Clear Lanes” and “DFW Connector Congestion Relief” projects are TxDOT’s effort to address gridlock and “normal” traffic pileups for Texas drivers statewide. In two different votes, both in November (2014 and 2015), voters from Texas approved extra funding in the form of two amendments. Proposition One directs a portion of oil and gas tax revenues to go into the State Highway Fund.Proposition Seven directs a portion of the state’s general sales and usage tax, motor vehicle sales and rental taxes into the State Highway Fund.

In addition, TxDOT is partnering with local transportation leaders across the state to compile and develop projects that will also address congestion. These approved projects make up part of Texas’s Unified Transportation Program (UTP), which is a 10-year project development plan.

Some of the completed projects include: The SH121/360 Interchange, which was completed in June of 2018. It minimizes weaving and reduces congestion with new ramps and more direct connections.

The SH-199 nine-mile bridge to the future site of Western Center Blvd that includes six main lanes, three bridges and ramps was completed in 2019.

The IH 635/SH 121 interchange includes a new interchange at I-635 and new connectors at SH 26 and FM 2499 and was completed in July.

The SH-121/183 to Randol Mill Road project will reconstruct, widen and replace bridges for SH-10 and the Trinity River and should be completed in 2023.

Other projects include the Southeast Connector, which will reconstruct the I-20, I-820 and US 287 interchanges and add auxiliary lanes and main lanes for 16 miles, widen I-20 to 10 main lanes from I-820 to US 287, and widen I-820 to 8 main lanes from I-20 to Meadowbrook Blvd. That is scheduled for a 2027 completion date.

Improvements along I-20 in Arlington from Park Springs Blvd to SH 161 to reconstruct and add one main lane each direction, and add frontage roads is scheduled for completion in 2023.

Improvements on SH-360 from Division St to Green Oaks Blvd include the addition of one main lane in each direction with ramp improvements, as well as enhanced access to Arlington.

The Central Business District was completed in April 2021.

Spur 303 (Pioneer Pkwy) Pedestrian Project from Collins St to SH 360 is a project in cooperation between TxDOT, North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and the city of Arlington. It will enhance public safety and better accommodate pedestrian traffic with continuous sidewalks, American Disabilities Act-required curb ramps, upgraded traffic signals with pedestrian elements and upgraded lights to LED. This project is scheduled for completion in 2022.

The IH-30/SH-360 connections project will add bi-directional interchanges with connection ramps. It will also feature auxiliary lanes on I-30 from Ballpark Way to Great Southwest Pkwy and add one main lane in each direction on SH-360 from Ave K to Six Flags Dr. Part of the project will also widen the Six Flags Dr. bridge from two to five lanes. The work is scheduled to be completed in 2021-2022.

All of the participating entities are taking on these projects to make private and public transportation in the DFW area less congested and more efficient.