For as long as many can remember, Interstate 30 and State Highway 360 have crossed paths near Arlington’s Entertainment District.
And for as long as many can remember, it’s been impossible for drivers to get directly from one to the other.
Instead, they have to take a series of exits, frontage roads, side streets and turns to navigate between the two major roadways.
People who drive both roads frequently don’t mince words when they talk about that experience.
“It’s a horrible, congested mayhem of an interchange,” said Michael Morris, Director of Transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
“It’s very difficult,” said Kathryn Wilemon, an Arlington City Council Member.
That interchange was originally designed for toll plazas when I-30 was a toll road. It hasn’t changed since.
TxDOT has wanted to replace the interchange for some time now. It’s spent the past several years completing the environmental impact work on the project and drafting designs for it. What it’s been lacking is the $250 million needed to build it – that is, until now.
“We hope this pendulum will continue to move,” said Morris.
In November, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, which redirects oil and gas severance tax revenues from a rainy day fund to the State Highway Fund. Each region in Texas gets a portion of that money, which is determined by a state formula.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments oversees the piece of that pie the DFW area receives and ultimately decides how that money will be spent. The interchange is at the top of their list.
“We’re doing one that’s been on the books for a really long time,” said Morris.
There are a number of requirements tied to the money, including one that says it has to be used on a project that will be under construction by the end of 2015. Morris says the interchange is on track to meet that deadline.
“This time next year, you’ll see the interchange at I-30 and 360, after a zillion years, finally be under construction,” said Morris.
That’s music to Wilemon’s ears.
“It’s very important,” said Wilemon. “And it will be good for everyone. I think everyone in the region is going to be excited about it.”
The state is expected to sign off on the project later this month. Once it’s approved, TxDOT can finalize designs and bid out the project.