August 20, 2012

Signs of progress evident on Chisholm Trail Parkway

Motorists are still dealing with narrow lanes and barricades on Hulen Street, Southwest Boulevard and many other places along the 28-mile Chisholm Trail Parkway work zone. But complaints are fewer.

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Motorists are still dealing with narrow lanes and barricades on Hulen Street, Southwest Boulevard and many other places along the 28-mile Chisholm Trail Parkway work zone.

But there are signs of progress as the $1.6 billion project grows closer to its scheduled mid-2014 opening.

The fact that the end is in sight might be one reason why motorists in southwest Fort Worth are a bit less stressed about the work on the planned toll road lately.

"They're starting to see the progress, and they're saying that this road is going to be a game-changer and it's going to improve life for people in Johnson County as well as Fort Worth," said Clint Sanders, regional development director for Texas Health Harris Methodist Foundation and chairman of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce's south area council.

Spaghetti bowl

In southwest Fort Worth, rows of elevated bridge supports stretch for about a quarter mile, ready to lift Chisholm Trail Parkway over Overton Ridge Boulevard.

A bit to the north, where Interstate 20 and Southwest Boulevard (Texas 183) converge, a veritable "spaghetti bowl" of bridge connections and ramps is under construction. Traffic on Southwest Boulevard remains limited to one lane in each direction from roughly Hulen Street to beyond Bryant Irvin Road.

Crews are doing their work on a new stretch of Southwest Boulevard that will be 40 feet lower than the old lanes, so Chisholm Trail Parkway can be built overhead. At its tallest point, Chisholm Trail Parkway will be 105 feet above ground in this area, according to North Texas Tollway Authority officials.

On Hulen Street, work is progressing quickly on a new bridge spanning the Union Pacific Railroad's Davidson Yard.

Traffic remains limited to one lane in each direction, which continues to cause delays of five minutes or more for northbound traffic.

When the new Hulen Street bridge is completed later this year, traffic will remain one lane in each direction while workers dismantle the old bridge.

Fewer complaints

Closer to downtown Fort Worth, Chisholm Trail Parkway will run parallel to Interstate 30 for nearly a mile and a half, from roughly Summit Avenue to University Drive. Barricades have been placed along I-30, and lanes are being closed occasionally in the evening as workers begin the long process of connecting I-30 to Chisholm Trail Parkway.

No major daytime lane closures are scheduled for I-30 in the immediate future, tollway authority spokesman Michael Rey said.

South of I-30 near Montgomery Street, Rutledge Street is being converted to a dead-end, with traffic restricted to local businesses and deliveries. and through traffic detoured to West Vickery Boulevard.

Also, the westbound Rosedale Street bridge to Lovell Avenue is being rebuilt to make room for Chisholm Trail Parkway.

City officials said complaints about the project have dropped in recent months. It's as though residents were initially shocked by the enormity of the project but have become accustomed to dealing with the work zones -- with the understanding that it's a temporary arrangement, and that by mid-2014 traffic will be much better in the area, one official said.

"Every once in awhile, we get a complaint about truck traffic, and we have to send the police out and make sure they're operating safely," said Fort Worth Councilman Jungus Jordan. "But it's rare, and they're very responsive."

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796

Twitter: @gdickson

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