Tablet Local

Part of I-35W shutting down this weekend

Motorists planning to use Interstate 35W to get to TCU’s crucial football game Saturday morning against Iowa State may want to call an audible and find another route.

Same goes for residents aiming to attend Saturday’s Christmas in the Stockyards events, including the tree lighting.

Both directions of Interstate 35W — Fort Worth’s busiest north-south freeway — are scheduled to close at Northeast 28th Street for a bridge demolition that’s part of a $1.4 billion makeover of the corridor. Both directions of Northeast 28th — a main east-west route to the Stockyards — will also be closed.

The closures are scheduled for 9 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday and from 9 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.

TCU is No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings, and with a decisive win over Iowa State at Amon Carter Stadium, the Horned Frogs could wind up competing for a national championship.

The top four teams will play in semifinal games, and the winners will advance to the first-ever College Football Playoff championship, set for Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Saturday’s game is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. But with a full house expected, thousands of motorists will likely head toward west Fort Worth hours before game time. That pregame buzz could lead to major congestion on area roads.

For those coming from the north, a trip to TCU usually involves I-35W, but it would be a terrific idea to find another route this weekend.

One option is to take Loop 820 (Jim Wright Freeway) around Fort Worth’s northwest quadrant to Interstate 30 and then head back east to South University Drive. That’s a long detour, but it’s likely to bring far fewer headaches than inching along on I-35W.

To get to the Stockyards, consider taking Loop 820 to North Main Street. Events at Christmas in the Stockyards, including a tree-lighting, a parade and chicken-roping (yes, chicken-roping), are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On I-35W, a detour has been set up for traffic on the main lanes. All traffic will be forced to exit on special ramps set up on all sides of the Northeast 28th Street overpass. Traffic will essentially be diverted to frontage roads to go around the bridge, said Tommy Williamson, a spokesman for North Tarrant Express 35W, which is managing the project.

“For this weekend, they’ll exit at 28th Street and go through the intersection,” Williamson said.

Detours are also set up for 28th Street traffic, he said. Eastbound traffic will be redirected to Northside Drive, and westbound traffic will be redirected to Northeast 33rd Street.

City officials said they’re concerned about how construction-related gridlock will affect many neighborhoods, especially the Northside and Diamond Hill areas.

“I have concerns not only with this closure but with I-35W construction and the Trinity River bridges construction for our citizens being able to conveniently access the Stockyards, downtown Fort Worth and our city along these corridors,” said Councilman Sal Espino, whose district includes the area. “I hope that the Texas Department of Transportation and the city’s Transportation and Public Works Department can coordinate and address our citizen concerns on these issues.”

State officials say they hope to open I-35W’s main lanes a couple of hours early, possibly by 8 a.m. Saturday, to reduce the impact on special-events traffic, Transportation Department spokesman Tony Hartzel said.

The agency and contractors “have worked closely with the city of Fort Worth and others in discussing the potential impacts of the scheduled bridge demolition this weekend,” Hartzel said. “This closure has been scheduled for weeks, and the work is critical to keeping the project on schedule.”

Motorists who want other information on the I-35W project may go online to northtarrantexpress.com. Work on the corridor from Interstate 30 near downtown Fort Worth to the Alliance Airport area is expected to continue through 2018.

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