Chisholm Trail Parkway is about to become a lot more convenient for motorists near downtown.
A long-awaited ramp that will directly connect traffic on westbound Interstate 30 to southbound Chisholm Trail Parkway is scheduled to open before dawn Friday. Motorists can exit westbound I-30 between Summit Avenue and Forest Park Boulevard.
The main lanes of the 28-mile toll road, which connects Fort Worth to Cleburne, opened in May, even though crucial connections to I-30 were not complete. During the past five months, drivers in downtown Fort Worth who wanted to use Chisholm Trail Parkway typically took I-30 to Montgomery Street, the closest southbound on-ramp.
The Montgomery Street detour resulted in a delay of at least two or three minutes, making the prospect of spending money on a toll road less attractive.
“Of course, the convenience factor will play a big part,” said Elizabeth Mow, assistant executive director for infrastructure at the North Texas Tollway Authority. “This will get people out of the whole University mess.”
Although the I-30 on-ramp will be completed, work will continue on the I-30 main lanes and frontage road until early next year, she said. So motorists remaining on I-30 will still deal with narrow lanes and concrete barriers.
The authority is also working with the city on improving University Drive, where many motorists have complained that changes in traffic patterns to make way for Chisholm Trail Parkway have turned their once-easy commute into a headache.
“It added 10 minutes to mine, and I don’t even use the thing,” said Kenneth Janak, a west Fort Worth resident.
Janak said he doesn’t even drive on Chisholm Trail Parkway but gets stuck in traffic on University Drive while heading to and from work in the TCU area.
In particular, Janak said things got worse when a right-turn lane was eliminated from northbound University Drive to eastbound I-30. Now there’s a left-turn-only lane at that intersection, but traffic doesn’t move as quickly, he said. And for several months, a lane of traffic was closed, although that barrier has been removed.
University Drive is city-owned, but the tollway authority plans to ask Fort Worth officials’ permission to install special treatments to improve traffic flow, Mow said.
One idea is to place large stickers on the northbound University Drive lanes, letting motorists know hundreds of feet ahead of time which lane they should be in to enter I-30 or Chisholm Trail Parkway or to continue north on University. The stickers, which resemble the shield-shaped design of highway signs, are commonly used on Metroplex freeways to help motorists identify the appropriate lane.