The I-35 Expansion Project in Central Texas
For travelers and business owners, construction projects — whatever their long-term benefits — can be an annoying, frustrating experience. Exits closed, access limited, traffic slowed down in work zones — mitigating the effects of those necessary evils is what a mobility coordinator does on behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). In one case, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is helping TxDOT get the word out about its massive I-35 Expansion Project to those who use the interstate the most.
Driven by citizen input, the I-35 project is expanding a 96-mile stretch of the interstate from Hillsboro to Salado in TxDOT’s Waco District. At an estimated cost of $2.5 billion, the overall effort is made up of 17 smaller construction projects and is targeted for completion in 2018. Ultimately, a project this size affects hundreds of thousands of citizens living nearby, tens of thousands of businesses, and millions of travelers over its lifespan. For business owners situated beside I-35, changes resulting from construction can seem threatening since they potentially limit a customer’s ability to get to their stores for what can often be a significant period of time.
“By visiting with them, we can help them prepare for what’s coming and work with them to figure out how to maintain access for their customers during construction,” says TTI Research Engineer John Habermann, one of three TTI mobility coordinators supporting TxDOT on the project.
“Reconstructing almost 100 miles of interstate is a massive job for the department, and at the end of the day we at TxDOT want to be as responsive and helpful as we can to our fellow Texans,” Jodi Wheatley, Waco District’s information specialist for the project, says. “That would be much more difficult without TTI’s logistical support and technical know-how. Maybe even impossible.”