FORT WORTH — Government officials wearing hard hats ceremonially turned dirt Thursday on a long overdue remake of I-35W in North Fort Worth.
When it's complete in 2018, north and southbound sides will each have two free lanes, two toll lanes in the center and two lane service roads. The project covers about 10 miles from I-30 to north of 287.
Local government officials cobbled together $1.4 billion from several sources, including private funds and federal loans. TxDOT is contributing about $200 million for its portion north of 820.
"There's just been a tremendous lack of funding from the state and federal government," complained Tarrant County judge Glen Whitley, a long-time road warrior in the struggle to improve transportation.
He pointed out that Tarrant's population just hit 1.9 million and is projected to double by the mid-century. The Alliance corridor has added 37,000 jobs, including 5,000 last year.
Texas is adding more people than any other state, but ranks near the bottom in per capita highway spending.
"There has been no new source of funding or adjustment in 20 years," said State Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff.
Vandergriff helped shovel dirt and praised local government cooperation and innovation for getting it done. But, officials say even when the project is complete, it will barely add enough new capacity to keep up with growing demand. They hope toll lanes take the pressure off.
TxDOT officials say 170,000 vehicles a day use the stretch of highway. As dignitaries lifted their shovels, northbound motorists watched as they slowly crept forward.