Construction for TEX Rail has reached the final stretch, with major road and highway closures affecting roads in Northeast Tarrant County.
From downtown Fort Worth to DFW Airport, workers have been tearing out the old railroad tracks and installing new rails to accommodate the Swiss-built train that will start operating by Dec. 31.
Drivers have already noticed the lane closures on Brumlow Avenue this month as utilities are relocated near the Southlake and Grapevine border. That’s just a precursor to the main event coming in late June when Brumlow will be closed for three weeks.
It’s expected to start the week of June 25 and last until mid-July.
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“It’s a straightforward process but it goes much faster when we close the road,” said Brian Murnahan, a TEX Rail spokesman. “It’s much safer for everyone. We replace the approach, put in new concrete and asphalt so it will meet where the new tracks are going to go.”
The final step will be to install the new ballast, railroad ties and tracks along that entire stretch, a process that takes about three days. This portion will remain single track — a siding will be installed to the east where trains can wait to pass each other, Murnahan said. That siding will be built between Kimball Avenue and Mustang Court.
To the west of Brumlow, workers have installed a new railroad bridge over Big Bear Creek. So, right now, there are actually two parallel bridges over the creek. As workers install the new tracks at Brumlow Avenue, they will connect to the new bridge and the old bridge and tracks in that area will be removed.
TEX Rail has been testing the high-tech trains in Northeast Tarrant County for several weeks. When it opens, the 27-mile commuter line will have stops nine stops, including downtown Fort Worth, North Richland Hills, Grapevine and Terminal B at DFW Airport. There will be eight trains running 72 routes per day.
The promise of commuter rail in North Richland Hills sparked the development of new townhomes and apartments near its rail station while Grapevine is making its station into a landmark with an outdoor plaza and hotel to complement its already booming downtown.
Closer to downtown Grapevine, Ira E. Woods Avenue has been closed at the railroad crossing since May 29. Murnahan said the road is expected to re-open by the end of June. That portion of Ira E. Woods isn’t a major road and there are other routes drivers can take.
The biggest remaining project is the 1,400-foot railroad bridge over Texas 121/114 in Grapevine. Nightly lane closures will continue for the next two months or so as workers finish the bridge. The closures are from 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. No more full highway closures are anticipated.
“All the big pieces are up, it’s just a matter of putting it all together,” Murnahan said.