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Highway Overhaul Attempts to Ease Congestion

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Southeast Connector Rendering | Image by TxDOT

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is breaking ground on a massive highway overhaul project, which hopes to ease congestion on some of Dallas’ most crowded freeways.

Dubbed the “Southeast Connector” project, $1.6 billion of primarily taxpayer money will be used to widen roads and improve safety conditions on I-20, I-820, and U.S. 287.

Of the hundreds of highways in Texas, 37 of the most congested are within the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

According to a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, backups on I-20 have caused nearly 2.5 million hours of delay and well over $60 million in congestion costs. I-820 and U.S. 287 have similar metrics, with U.S. 287 being the 14th most congested in the state and I-820 taking 23rd.

Each roadway is crucial to interstate commerce and transport, with I-20 also recognized as a state primary evacuation route by TxDOT.

TxDOT said that 250,000 people commute on these three highways every day. In 20 years, TxDOT estimates that the number will increase to 375,000 per day. To address the impending growth in traffic, I-20 will be widened from eight to 10 lanes from I-820 to U.S. 287, and I-820 will be doubled from four to eight main lanes from I-20 to Ramey Avenue. The improvements add up to 11 miles of Texas highway being extended with additional lanes.

Each interchange on I-820, I-20, and U.S. 287 will be modified to add safety and efficiency upgrades. Some left exit and entrance ramps will be removed, and drivers on I-820 and U.S. 287 will no longer have to merge onto I-20 to stay on route.

Texas’ Southeast Connector is one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects the state has ever initiated.

“The magnitude of a $1.6 billion project is something that has not been seen,” said David Salazar, the TxDOT Fort Worth district engineer. He added that the project will be “one of the first of its kind.”

Drivers will have to deal with construction on these sections of the highway until the estimated completion date of 2027.

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