DALLAS — Driving to and from downtown Dallas will eventually get easier for hundreds of thousands of drivers each day.
On Thursday, the state approved funding for the massive Horseshoe Project that will make it easier to get on and off Interstates 30 and 35E.
The $700 million project will replace bridges at I-30 and I-35E and the connecting roadways that cross the Trinity River, as well as upgrade outdated roadways. It will also add another signature bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava.
These are changes that drivers have wanted for a long time.
"There's always a slowdown, you know, in the canyon and that area," said motorist Ray Kent. "Pretty bad... always."
Every day, the Texas Department of Transportation says 350,000 vehicles struggle through the outdated interchange the state considers among the most congested in Texas.
Both the interstate bridges spanning the Trinity River will be replaced — and not just because of congestion. Safety is an issue, too.
The I-30 bridge is literally falling apart.
The Horseshoe Project means downtown Dallas will get a second signature bridge by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava — the new I-30. The state will chip in for what a standard bridge would cost; the city will spend $80 million from a controversial federal earmark that pays for Calatrava's extras.
But cost-cutting means the bridge will look much different from the original design.
"It will be really exciting to have pedestrian ways going across, bicycle ways going across from one side of the city to the other," said City Council member Linda Koop. "That is really exciting. The symmetry of the two bridges, I think, will be very lovely for the skyline."
But before anything looks lovely, there will be a lot of construction... and the ugly congestion that goes along with it.