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Another traffic mess will be just outside DFW Airport, for the next 4 years

He was a young man when he first became mayor

William D. Tate, mayor of Grapevine, reflects on his 43 years of service.
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William D. Tate, mayor of Grapevine, reflects on his 43 years of service.

Motorists who travel through Grapevine should get ready for about four more years of road construction and nighttime lane closures.

Work is about to begin on a $370 million makeover of the Interstate 635/Texas 121 interchange in Grapevine.

Motorists can expect nightly lane closures for months. A ceremony will be held Monday to kick off the project, and the actual work will begin in a month or so, a project spokeswoman said.

Much like the DFW Connector project, a $1 billion makeover of the Texas 114/121 corridor in Grapevine that lasted from 2010 to 2014, the lane closures and detours will take place almost always at night and on weekends, to ensure workday traffic continues to flow, a spokeswoman said.

Also, project managers have worked with DFW Airport to ensure the bright lights associated with nighttime road work do not interfere with aircraft on final approach to the runways, said Alyssa Tenorio, spokeswoman for the lead contractor Northgate Constructors. The airfield and its seven runways are just a mile or so south of the work zone.

“We have worked with DFW Airport and the FAA to ensure we’re out of the flight zone with all our upcoming work,” she said.

Grapevine is a merge point for six highways — I-635 (aka LBJ Freeway), Texas 114, Texas 121, Texas 26, Texas 360 and Farm Road 1709 — and is one of the most congested corridors in North Texas. The city is wedged between two huge geographical barriers — the sprawling DFW Airport and Lake Grapevine — and by some estimates about 500,000 vehicles per day squeeze through the area.

Traffic on northbound 121, for example, heads to Lewisville, The Colony, Carrollton and Plano. Traffic on eastbound I-635 goes to Coppell, Irving, Addison, Farmers Branch and Dallas.

About 180,000 vehicles per day travel just on Texas 121 south of I-635, according to North Central Texas Council of Governments traffic counts.

Unlike the DFW Connector project, which focused on widening and rebuilding main lanes, the work on the 635/121 interchange will be mostly about improving direct connection ramps and auxiliary lanes that help people switch from one highway to another. Also, Bass Pro Drive and other roads in the area will be widened to increase capacity.

The work on the 635/121 interchange was originally supposed to be part of the DFW Connector work from 2010-14, but there wasn’t sufficient funding to do all the work. In 2017, state leaders found the funding they needed through a new program known as the Texas Clear Lanes Initiative.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796; @twitter

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