The Texas Department of Transportation announced yesterday that the LBJ Development Partners will be in charge of the freeway overhaul, which will include six new toll lanes.
Construction is expected to start in mid 2010 or ’11—that still hasn’t been nailed down. And the current design isn’t set in stone either. If the developer wants to tweak something, they can try and get it approved. But from what I’ve been told by councilmen Ron Natinsky, there isn’t much room for any design tweaking: TxDot won’t allow them to build any higher than the current freeway level, and there’s too much development along the freeway to expand it any wider—hence the dimpled lanes we see in the current plan.
I’ve also talked with councilman Linda Koop about the issue, and she points out that our High Five was completed ahead of schedule, and under budget, which people doubted would happen. She has a point, but I like many, still have doubts about how smoothly this overhaul will go. Our city is one of the fastest growing in the nation, and any of us who have to deal with that parking lot of a freeway knows we’re rapidly outgrowing LBJ. Just to put it in perspective: the freeway was built in 1969 to handle 180,000 cars per day. As of 2008, it was handling more than 270,000 cars per day. And if our population keeps growing at its current rate, by 2020 more than 450,000 cars per day will be using that freeway. Indeed, something has to be done to alleviate that traffic—unfortunately though, I think things on LBJ are going to have to get a lot worse before they get better.
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