The long wait is over for drivers in Dallas County: the 16.5-mile LBJ Express, a nearly three-billion-dollar highway reconstruction project, will open and be fully operational on Thursday, September 10.
“Over the last four years, the LBJ Express project team has fully rebuilt the corridor, using the most advanced technology, superior and unique design standards, and state-of-the-art pavement – all in record time,” said Heather DeLapp, regional public relations manager for the project.
The project, which began in 2011, encompasses the complete reconstruction of all main lanes and expanded frontage lanes along I-635, as well as the addition of new TEXpress managed lanes along I-635 and direct connectors to new managed lanes along I-35E. The LBJ Express is the first comprehensive development agreement (CDA) project signed in Dallas County.
A unique design-build process, in which the project is being designed and built concurrently, shaved several years from the project schedule. The completed corridor will provide improved mobility by almost doubling the existing roadway capacity. “In a feat of innovative engineering, the majority of the managed lanes were constructed sub-grade in a cantilevered depressed corridor traveling under the main lanes. The project also includes elevated managed lane connections on I-35E that feed directly into the managed lanes on I-635. The project also includes bypass lanes at most of the major intersections along the corridor; new ornate bridge structures and retaining walls and unique lighting are also major components of the rebuilt corridor,” explained DeLapp.
LBJ Express features a combination of four main lanes in each direction, two to three lanes of continuous frontage roads in each direction, and three managed toll lanes (known as TEXpress Lanes) in each direction that will use fluctuating, congestion managed tolling to keep traffic moving at a goal of 50 mph.
The LBJ Express project serves not only as a financial model for other P3 projects, but it also represents an extensive collaborative effort that can be replicated elsewhere in the state and the country. “We were able to deliver this project ahead of schedule because of the cooperation and collaboration of an unprecedented number of entities,” said Robert Hinkle, director of corporate affairs for the LBJ Express and North Tarrant Express projects. “From the very beginning, TxDOT, the cities of Dallas and Farmers Branch, Dallas County, North Central Council of Governments, the local Chambers of Commerce, and the hundreds of contracting businesses and thousands of employees worked together to get the project completed ahead of schedule,” he added.
The TEXpress Lanes along the LBJ Express are part of a much larger network in North Texas that includes SH 114 and the North Tarrant Express, which opened in October of last year. TEXpress Lanes will also be utilized along I-35W, which is currently under construction between downtown Fort Worth and US 287, I-30 in Tarrant County, SH 183 in Dallas and Tarrant Counties and I-35E in Dallas County.
“The ultimate goal is to create a seamless transportation system that allows long-haul travelers along with regional and local commuters the ability to quickly, safely and reliably travel from one side of the DFW metroplex to other or anywhere in between,” said Hinkle. “By providing this new route for through-travelers, we are shifting vehicles off of the main lanes, facilitating greater mobility throughout the length of these corridors.”
For information on the LBJ Express corridor and TEXpress Lanes, please visit www.LBJTEXpress.com. To view the video on how to use the TEXpress lanes, please click here. For a map of the new corridor, including five new exit and entrance ramps, please click here.
A formal ribbon-cutting will officially mark the opening of the LBJ Express on Thursday, September 10.
LBJ Express By the Numbers
64 Bridge structures rebuilt
200 Direct subcontractors
5,760 Beams placed
3.5 million Dollars spent per day at peak construction
9,000+ Safety orientations conducted
564,000+ Linear feet of concrete barriers placed
678,000+ Tons of asphalt laid
6 million+ Cubic yards of dirt moved
17 million Man hours worked
Below are some photos taken last week of the project, just a few weeks prior to opening.