Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter
The Texas Department of Transportation is holding three public meetings about the much-needed expansion plans for I-35W between I-30 and Loop 820 in Fort Worth.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price wants to make sure people of all viewpoints attend key transportation meetings this week.
Several portions of Interstate 35W from Interstate 30 to north of Loop 820 rank among the top 25 most congested highways in the state. Approximately 120,000 vehicles traverse the main artery per day.
The highway's future is the focus of one of three transit-related public meetings taking place this week. Work on the I-35W expansion, which would double and perhaps even triple the number of lanes, could start by next year, with the first phase completed by 2018.
"We're nearing the end of the environmental process," Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Peters said. "It's important that we hear from everyone."
Price said wants as many people as possible to attend Tuesday night's meeting at Calvary Chapel Academy.
"Get out and let them know what you think about it," she said.
Price used her regular online message to Fort Worth citizens to encourage people to attend or submit comments, saying online that "these aren't done deals."
"You don't want something as crucial as I-35 or TEX Rail stops, any of them, to be controlled by a small group of people who have an opinion pro or con," Price said.
She said the I-35 corridor is critical to travel as well as commerce.
"It's all about jobs and fueling our economy," Price said.
Other recent hearings in the city have had sparse attendance, she said.
The TxDOT hearing on the I-35W expansion takes place at 6:30 p.m. The area recently received a $415 million loan for funding the project, which could costs as much as $1.4 trillion when all said and done.
The TEX Rail meetings will discuss the location of possible stations, as the commuter rail line is in its early engineering phase. Those meetings also take place at 6:30 p.m., with Monday's happening in the Medical District at Saint Stephen Presbyterian Church and Wednesday night at Diamond Hill Community Center.