Drivers can expect big delays this weekend on Interstate 35W in North Fort Worth.
The Texas Department of Transportation plans to shut down the main lanes of the highway all weekend, from Friday night until as late as early Monday morning. The closure is needed to tear down the old 35W northbound connector to state Highway 287 bridge. Once the bridge is removed, expanding the width of the interstate can continue.
TxDOT said it has warning signs posted from Denton County to as far south as Waco about the closure to encourage those driving through to take Interstate 35E.
Interstate 35W is one of the busiest corridors in the country. The current project will nearly double its capacity between Loop 820 and 287, but some growing pains will take place first. Drivers in the area know all about the construction headaches already.
"Pretty rough. I mean, trying to get to and from downtown from around here, especially trying to go north, especially around rush hour," said driver Daniel Zagozda.
"From day to day, you're never sure what lanes are open and what's not," said driver Cindy Worrell. "And when there's a wreck or any kind of fender bender, that just delays everything. So, it is frustrating."
Those frustrations will grow even more this weekend as crews jackhammer away the old bridge deck. It's a closure not everyone knows about.
"Wow, I didn't know that, but I'll be sure to avoid the area for sure," Worrell said.
And that's exactly what TxDOT is asking drivers to do: avoid the area if they can.
"It's not safe to allow traffic on the main lanes as this bridge is being demolished, so traffic will be detoured around the closure," said TxDOT spokesman Michael Peters.
Northbound drivers will be moved to the frontage road at Basswood Boulevard. Southbound traffic will take Harmon Road to 287 southbound.
"Hopefully the back roads will be available," Zagozda.
As for when the new main lanes of this stretch from Loop 820 to 287 will be all available and the work complete, TxDOT said it's on schedule for 2016, as 40 percent of the work is now complete.
"That's a relief, but at the same time, it seems like it's been going on for a long time," Worrell said. "I'm ready for it to be done."
The project begins Friday at 9 p.m., weather permitting.