The DFW Connector just in time

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The DFW Connector is nearly finished, and not one day too soon.

As Grapevine kicks off its annual GrapeFest wine celebration, the city is back on the map as an easy destination for both local visitors and airline travelers.

It took four years and $1.1 billion, but traffic now mostly flows freely again along Texas 114 and Texas 121 through and to Grapevine, Southlake and the north entrance of D/FW Airport.

At 24 lanes wide, counting ramps and frontage roads, it can handle the tremendous car and truck traffic on a half-dozen highways connecting four counties with the airport.

Southlake also will benefit. Drivers from Bedford and the Airport Freeway will find it easier to go to and from that city as well as Grapevine. A dedicated ramp delivers motorists on Texas 121 to and from Farm Road 1709 and the edge of Southlake Town Square.

This might be the biggest news of all:

It will be finished nine months ahead of schedule.

One other important point:

It took $261 million from Washington and the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Grapevine-area drivers benefit from the largest federal “stimulus” investment for highways anywhere in the nation.

In Texas, the state transportation department invested $667 million from gasoline tax revenue. The agency partnered with two contractors to save money by putting new technology to work, including onsite metal and concrete recycling for the 8-mile-long project, which took 50 million pounds of steel and 570,000 cubic yards of concrete in 39 bridges, ramps and access lanes.

Eventually, Texas 114 drivers will have a choice of TEXpress Lanes, sweeping them rapidly through the interchange from Southlake to Irving and back for an extra charge, probably starting at about $1.50 each way.

For Grapevine, the project’s end comes just when an estimated 200,000 festivalgoers will come for the city’s annual celebration of Texas wines, which begins with free admission Thursday and Friday and continues as a paid event Friday night through Sunday.

This week, the city announced a $300,000 TV, radio and print advertising campaign to welcome shoppers and diners back to town. City leaders will go before the camera to say, “We survived the DFW Connector Project.”

They should thank both Austin and Washington.

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