Motorists frustrated by freeway gridlock have reason for hope: the North Tarrant Express 35W project is more than halfway finished – but just barely.

“It’s 51 percent complete overall,” said Heather DeLapp, a spokeswoman for North Tarrant Infrastructure, lead developer of the project.

Speaking at an Aug. 3 Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition meeting, DeLapp and other project officials applauded the efforts of more than 1,200 workers pushing the project forward each day.

Their labor is expected to ensure project completion by late 2018 in reconstructing I-35W from downtown to Loop 820, one portion of the multi-phase project. Reaching completion even sooner is expected to be the portion from Loop 820 to North Tarrant Parkway, which was 77 percent complete as of July 2016. What officials call “substantial completion” is set for later this year.

The $1.6 billion 35W reconstruction effort includes a section ranked sixth on the state’s most congested roadway list. That’s along 6.5 miles of I-35W from north of Interstate 30 to north of Loop 820, including the I-35W/I-820 interchange in Fort Worth. The project includes reconstructing main lanes and the addition of TEXpress managed lanes.

Considerable progress has been made on the project, including the recent relocation of the northbound I-35W off-ramp to Texas 121 moved further south near Spur 280. Meanwhile, crews continue reconstructing the northbound 35W loop into downtown and the connector ramp from downtown to northbound 35W.

New direct connectors recently opened, connecting westbound Loop 820 to northbound I-35W and southbound I-35W; eastbound Loop 820 to northbound I-35W; and southbound I-35W to westbound Loop 820.

By the end of August, a direct connector is planned to open connecting northbound I-35W to east- and westbound Loop 820, with a direct connector from southbound I-35W to eastbound Loop 820 by the end of September, officials said.

Amid all the activity will be two construction blackouts, or periods with no construction. They will occur at the portion of I-35W passing Texas Motor Speedway from noon Friday Aug. 26 to noon Sunday Aug. 28, and from noon Thursday Sept. 1 (Labor Day) to 10 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 6.

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