North Texas Tollway Authority officials say they’re on course to finish Chisholm Trail Parkway by late September, and the latest sign of progress is a new direct connection ramp in southwest Fort Worth.The new ramp, which opened Sunday night, connects westbound Interstate 20 to southbound Chisholm Trail Parkway. That’s a connection that could be useful for thousands of residents who travel each day among communities along the toll road such as southwest Fort Worth, Burleson, Joshua and Cleburne and job centers such as Arlington, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and Irving.Drivers who are wondering when the remaining Chisholm Trail Parkway fly-over ramps at I-20 and Interstate 30 will be completed just need to hang in there another couple of months, officials said.“We anticipate the opening all the remaining DCs (direct connections) by the end of September,” said tollway authority spokesman Michael Rey.Rey added in an email that “traffic is ramping up” on the 28-mile toll road connecting I-30 near downtown Fort Worth to U.S. 67 in Cleburne. However, on Monday he didn’t have precise figures showing approximately how many vehicles per day are using the road.Generally, motorists who use Chisholm Trail Parkway say traffic seems light, even during peak periods of the day — although on connecting roads such as Montgomery Street congestion can be heavy.But tollway authority officials, who opened most of the toll road May 11 even though the direct connections to I-20 and I-30 weren’t complete, say they are confident the road will be a popular route once all the construction is done.The $1.4 billion project was built in a partnership with the tollway authority, Texas Department of Transportation and North Central Texas Council of Governments. City and county officials in Tarrant and Johnson counties, as well as officials from the Union Pacific Railroad and Fort Worth & Western Railroad also shared in the responsibilities.The road was planned for nearly 50 years. Before construction began, Fort Worth officials and neighborhood advocates fought to include stipulations in the contract that called for thorough landscaping, including the planting of more than 4,000 trees. Also, in the northernmost four miles leading through some of Fort Worth’s oldest neighborhoods, the road was engineered so that the top speed limit would be 50 mph, to prevent unnecessary noise and other pollution.Some motorists have noticed have noticed a strong police presence along the route, particularly the area with a 50 mph speed limit — but also further south where the limit increases to 60 and eventually 60 mph.“Basically, we’re enforcing the entire area,” said Kyle Bradford, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is contracted by the tollway authority to provide increased patrols on area toll roads.“We’re trying to accomplish an awareness of the speed limit in that area. Our goal is, we want to improve awareness and prevent crashes in that area. But we also want to enforce the speed limit.”Bradford didn’t have precise figures showing how many citations have been written on Chisholm Trail Parkway since it opened.Cities such as Fort Worth also have jurisdiction on the road, and on Monday a Fort Worth police car was seen driving on the toll road.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796 Twitter: @gdickson