A major sign of change on Interstate 35E in Denton County will open this week after years of work.
The new interstate bridge over Lewisville Lake will open to take on traffic by 8 a.m. Saturday morning, said project leaders with 35Express.
Once open, all traffic on the interstate will shift onto the new bridge, allowing construction crews to start upgrades on the existing bridge. Project manager Mark Smith expects that configuration will stay in place into next year.
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Once that work is done, though, commuters hope to see some of their traffic woes come to an end.
The new bridge will serve as the southbound side and the old bridge will take on northbound I-35E traffic. At that point the interstate will go from six lanes to a whopping 14 lanes, including frontage roads and two toll lanes that can reverse depending on the time of day.
For the first time ever, pedestrians and cyclists will also gain lanes of their own on the bridges to get to the other side of the lake.
"It's going to make a huge difference," said Smith. "It'll give options if there is an accident for people to get around on the lake bridge. Before, when there was an accident, traffic was stopped sometimes in both directions."
Work on the bridge began with the start of the 35Express project about three years ago, but county leaders have pushed for the upgrades for decades.
The new bridge stretches nearly a mile-and-a-half and cost about $250 million to construct. Altogether, 35Express is expected to cost about $1.4 billion as crews fix the roadway from Interstate 635 to U.S. Highway 380 – a project expected to last until mid-2017.