FORT WORTH – Motorists in Fort Worth can drive along the new Hulen Street Bridge for the first time in nearly 17 months, a sign that transportation officials say is proof that the Chisholm Trail Parkway is on schedule.
North Texas Tollway Authority spokesman Michael Rey says two northbound lanes and a southbound lane opened Friday morning. Upon completion in spring of next year, the bridge will sport three traffic lanes in each direction.
The Hulen Street Bridge sits at the north tip of the eventual Chisholm Trail Parkway, a 27.6-mile tollway that extends just south of Cleburne in Johnson County to downtown Fort Worth. It’s the first NTTA project in Tarrant and Johnson Counties, Rey says.
The new Hulen Street Bridge is 10 feet taller than its previous incarnation and sits just east of it. Pedestrians will also have access to a 10-foot wide walkway that’s raised eight inches above the concrete traffic lanes, although there are no plans for a dedicated bike lane.
Rey said the lanes that are currently closed have to be so crews can safely deconstruct the old bridge a piece at a time. As crews do this, they can’t impact construction on the Chisholm Trail Parkway going on below the bridge or impact the operational Union Pacific Davidson Yard, which sits at ground level below all this. To illustrate the construction, Rey called it a "three-tiered bridge."
“For drivers in the area, they’re going to say, ‘Wait a minute, they just built this new bridge but they just opened a part of it,’” Rey says. “The answer to that is we must use the west side of the bridge, or one half of the bridge, to deconstruct the old bridge.”
“We have to take that apart piece-by-piece and we’re over construction and rail activity,” he added.
The Chisholm Trail Parkway is set to open in its entirety by the middle of 2014.