Rush is on for crews as opening of Chisholm Trail Parkway nears

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 7:03 PM

FORT WORTH -- It's Caterpillars instead of cattle lumbering on the Chisholm Trail now.

Construction crews are racing to open the Chisholm Trail Parkway.

"We started turning dirt in November of 2011," said Michael Rey of the North Texas Tollway Authority.

Just two-and-a-half years later, it’s scheduled to open to traffic on May 11. It's incomplete, but ready for cars. Crews are authorized to work 24/7 to beat the clock.

"I think we're the only folks in North Texas not praying for rain,” Rey said Friday. “It's get 'er done."

Friday afternoon, we weaved our way down all 28 miles from Fort Worth to Highway 67 in Johnson County, dodging dust and heavy equipment, cement mixers and sign hangers.

They're taking in vistas that couldn't be seen until now. The toll road cuts the commute in half from Cleburne to Fort Worth, opens up fields for development, and will lure new business.

Chief engineer Wallace Heimer knows what to expect.

"I was the engineer responsible for the extension of Dallas North Tollway from 121 up to 380," he said. "What tends to happen to these wide open spaces? They tend to not be wide open anymore."

Planners have dreamed of this for 55 years, but the money wasn't there. Tolls make the $1.6-billion project possible.

It will cost about $5 to drive the length of the parkway. But motorists will avoid the backups on I-35W, and dozens of lights on Highway 174.

Artwork and landscaping should make the Chisholm Trail Parkway a pleasant trip. Drivers might enjoy not feeling like cattle.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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