In 2015, North Texas drivers began to enjoy the benefits of the expanded and enhanced LBJ TEXpress along I-635 from I-35E to US 75. That project had been on the drawing board for decades and finally came to fruition when the State of Texas allowed a tolling component to help fund the project. With its innovative congestion management solutions, the roadway now offers drivers a choice: 1) Driving for free on reconstructed and enhanced freeway lanes and new, continuous frontage roads, or 2) Opting for the TEXpress managed lanes when they need a faster, more predictable rate of speed to make a flight or important event. All drivers have the freedom to choose. All drivers benefit. The North Central Texas Council of Governments reports that 36,000 drivers a day choose to drive on the recently-added single toll lanes on I-635 east of US 75 – the full capacity. Texans like the freedom to choose.
TxDOT, with much collaboration and planning with regional and local leaders, had been planning to extend that same type of roadway east on I-635 from US 75 to I-30. The project would connect to the current LBJ TEXpress and include five free, reconstructed and enhanced freeway lanes in each direction, continuous frontage roads along both sides of I-635, and the inclusion of two TEXpress managed toll lanes in each direction to give drivers a choice.
But in late 2017, the plan to extend the LBJ TEXpress to serve the 200,000+ drivers who travel daily on I-635 between US 75 and I-30, came to a screeching halt. After a handful of state leaders objected to the use of tolls to help fund any transportation projects, the Texas Transportation Commission surprised TxDOT and local leaders and drivers by voting in December 2017 to exclude the LBJ East project from the state's master plan.
Politics -- driven by people who did not drive on I-635 -- threatened to sabotage the much-needed LBJ East project, which would take a costly toll on drivers from Lake Highlands, Garland, Mesquite, Rowlett, Sunnyvale and eastern Dallas County; as well as neighborhoods and businesses along the corridor seeking the economic development and community enhancements that would come with the project.
But a group of citizens, with leadership from Dallas City Council Member Adam McGough whose district includes LBJ East, joined together to form LBJ Now, a grassroots coalition of neighbors, drivers, community leaders and local business owners who recognized the need to stay the course on the long-awaited LBJ East project.
After public meetings, many trips to Austin to appeal to policymakers and transportation commissioners, and dozens of letters and phone calls to elected officials, the LBJ East project was finally blessed by state officials at the beginning of summer 2018. A contractor was hired in May 2019, and the project is slated to be under construction from mid-2020 through 2024.
More than 150 people attended an LBJ East community meeting hosted by Councilmember Adam McGough and hundreds of neighbors signed up to be part of the LBJ Now grassroots coalition, which provided a voice for those who recognized the benefits of enhancing and expanding LBJ East.
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