Another step forward on the long awaited LBJ East freeway improvement comes Thursday night with a public meeting to reveal all the details of the latest financing plan and take public comments.
The public hearing will begin with an open house from 6 p.m to 7 p.m. and a formal presentation that begins at 7 p.m.
The hearing will be held at the Highlands Oaks Church of Christ, 10805 Walnut Hill Lane in Dallas.
A construction contract is due to be signed next month for the $1.7 billion project and officials with the Texas Department of Transportation said Thursday that all the money is in place.
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The expansion of I-635 LBJ Freeway between US 75 Central Expressway and I-30 through Dallas, Garland and Mesquite has been listed as the most needed freeway project in North Texas for many years.
Through much of the stretch there are no frontage roads. Traffic volume is too heavy for the amount of main lanes through the segment, so accidents are common, with no feeder roads to get around the wrecks.
"I try my hardest to avoid it," said driver Lisa Kruse. "There's lots of traffic. It can be quite treacherous."
After many years of delays, Susan Morgan with the activist group LBJ Now intends to be at Thursday night's meeting to see that progress keeps moving.
"We have a contractor. We're ready to get forward and the community is really excited. We've waited for this for a very long time. We're excited for the safety improvements. We're excited to get the economic development that will happen because of the additional feeder roads and we're excited to not be sitting in traffic anymore," Morgan said.
Improvements include widening the general purpose lanes from 8 to 10. Continuous frontage roads 2 to 3 lanes wide will be added in each direction. One tolled, managed lane in each direction will remain but those lanes will be rebuilt.
Earlier versions of the plan called for two toll lanes in each direction and that was one of the reasons for delay as state officials resisted any additional toll lanes in Texas. The compromise grandfathers the existing toll lanes.
"This is not a toll road and that's what people really don't care for," Morgan said. "These are optional toll managed lanes to give people the freedom to choose."
State officials came up with money to replace the toll revenue that was to fund part of the LBJ East project.
"As long as they make the traffic through here easier, I'd be happy for that. I just don't want to see the amount of accidents they have," said driver Phil Bauer.
Sound wall construction has already begun along parts of the LBJ East project area. Road construction is due to begin early next year if all goes as planned. The work is expected to take five years.
"It's going to be annoying for people that do have to use it, especially for five years," said driver Willie Brasher.
Drivers who spoke Thursday said they hope the improvements are worth waiting for.