NTX Magazine Volume 2 - Page 25

Feature Story Transportation Infrastructure Others say it’s just business as usual – a booming region keeping pace with one of the busiest, fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. The fact is, North Texas is building more road projects than any other region in the U.S., with nearly $15 billion worth of construction currently underway. “Mobility is of critical importance to the region,” said Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. “We can’t afford to lose businesses or not secure new businesses because of traffic.” LBJ Express: I-635 at Dallas North Tollway www.ntc-dfw.org In order to compete on a global stage, North Texas needs to maintain mobility to preserve growth. North Texas has added more people since 1990 than any other metro area in the country. Nearly 2.4 million people have moved to North Texas in the last 20 years. With a booming population, mobility is vital to ensuring the region meets the needs of its people and economy. “If we don’t maintain mobility, we aren’t going to compete well with other regions for growth,” said Vic Suhm, executive director of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition. “Businesses today, relative to the past, have lots of choices to relocate or expand, and they’re very likely going to choose a region that’s not plagued with traffic gridlock. So maintaining mobility is critical.” Three of the major transportation projects currently underway – LBJ Express, North Tarrant Express and DFW Connector – will tackle some of the most congested roadways in Texas by shifting away from the traditional mega-lane highways. These projects will utilize managed toll lanes – called TEXpress Lanes – to move drivers through the corridors at higher numbers and quicker rates of speed. These lanes will maintain a speed threshold of 50 mph and use real-time data to determine toll amounts. LBJ Express When Interstate 635 LBJ Freeway was first constructed in 1969, it was built for a capacity of 180,000 cars per day. By 2009, there were 270,000 cars per day traveling the route. To address the traffic needs, the LBJ Express project will reconstruct the current freeway lanes on I-635 and parts of Interstate 35E and add up to six new managed lanes. These managed lanes will be the key to the LBJ Express project accommodating current and future growth. When the LBJ Express project is finished, it will have a capacity of 350,000 cars per day, according to Andy Rittler, LBJ Express project spokesman. “The project is going to allow drivers a much more predictable rate of speed,” Rittler said. “We will be able to move more commuters through this pipeline throughout the day than if we built a traditional style of road.” The LBJ Express project will nearly double the capacity along a 17-mile stretch of I-635 in North Dallas. The corridor serves as a major east-west connection that links Highway 75, the Dallas DFW Connector: SH 114 and SH 26 interchange NTX Magazine 23