Commuters are now enduring a detour at one of the busiest highway interchanges in North Texas.
The ramp from the northbound Dallas North Tollway to eastbound Interstate 635/LBJ Freeway closed at 11 p.m. Sunday.
“I prefer not to drive,” says Hank Didier. The dreaded drive to the dentist is even worse for Didier Monday morning. Drivers trying to head east on 635 from the Northbound tollway, now have to get off at Harvest Hill to the Frontage Road, and then to the LBJ Frontage Road through construction in traffic, to reach the eastbound freeway.
“It’s a little heavy, especially with the zigzag and the S-curve. Everything slows down. This rain, it’s really sort of hazardous,” says Didier.
Traffic is forced to merge with drivers at Galleria Road, and includes a stop light at the busy intersection filled with shoppers trying to reach the Dallas Galleria Mall.
“Trying to get off the Toll road or to the Galleria, if that’s where you’re going, everyone’s cutting in at the last moment,” says Didier.
“It’s a major busy spot, so it’s going to be kind of a major problem as far as traffic,” driver Jill Beam said Sunday.
“It’s really ridiculous,” says McDonald’s General Manager Liali Abushanab. Her store on 635 at Montfort Drive has been dealing with construction for months.
Abushanab says on average, the store is losing $12,000-20,000 a month and blames customers avoiding the construction.
“It’s killing our business. A lot of customers don’t want to come,” says Abushanab. “Hopefully they’ll finish it soon.”
The goal is to have the new DNT/LBJ ramp open by August 20 for the start of the new school year.
I-635 through North Dallas is in the midst of a five year reconstruction projected called LBJ Express which will add toll express lanes under the existing freeway. The entire project is expected to be completed by late 2015.
Driver Mary Nguyen is a home health care nurse who visits patients in the North Dallas area.
“And so I’m having to choose any way in the world to go other than 635 at the present time because I have to get to my patients. My patients are waiting,” she said.
Both drivers said they will go out of their way to avoid the DNT/LBJ intersection during the detour period.
Project leaders say they’ll control the stop lights to account for the increased traffic.
NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff contributed to this report.