In 2019, TxDOT completed a study analyzing the I-10 El Paso Corridor, which is 55 miles long and extends from the New Mexico state line to FM 3380 (Aguilera International Highway). This stretch of highway is not only accommodating a growing population, but also helps facilitate international trade. The “Reimagine I-10” study identified four segments of the corridor and developed roadway solutions for each. Projects for each segment will be prioritized by TxDOT and will go through preliminary engineering (schematic) and environmental processes accordingly.
At this point in the Reimagine I-10 project, TxDOT has only prioritized improvements to Segment 2 which runs through downtown El Paso. The proposed Downtown I-10 project extends for 5.6 miles from Executive Center Boulevard to Loop 478 (Copia Street). The proposed improvements include reconstruction of the main lines, retaining walls, bridges, ramps, and cross streets. The project is anticipated to get environmental approval by 2024, which would be followed by ROW acquisitions and finally, construction.
Texas could become home to the nation’s first high-speed rail. Texas Central, a private company funded by foreign investors, is seeking to build a 240-mile, high speed rail connecting Dallas and Houston. The Texas High Speed Rail is modeled after and utilizes the the same technology as the high speed rail in Japan which connects Tokyo to Osaka. Texas Central has been met with strong opposition from some Texas lawmakers and rural landowners. Despite this opposition, the project is moving forward through the regulatory process.
In May of 2020, the Federal Railroad Administration released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project. In September 2020, the Federal Railroad Administration released a pre-publication of its final ruling, the Rule of Particular Applicability and Record of Decision, which addresses safety requirements of the project.
Before construction begins, Texas Central still needs to acquire additional right-of-way needed for the project. The high-speed rail will have an unprecedented negative impact on the value of impacted properties. Additionally, the project must still be approved by the Federal Surface Transportation Board before construction can begin.
Williamson County and the City of Taylor are reconstructing County Road 101 as a part of the county’s Long Range Transportation Plan which is designed to meet the needs of the county’s growing population. The $13 million project is 3.2 miles in length and spans from US 79 to Chandler Road. CR 101 will be reconstructed with two 12-foot lanes and left turn lanes at the intersections of CR 394/CR368 and Chandler Road. Additionally, the project will include two bridges. Construction is anticipated to be completed in fall of 2021 and the County has already begun the process of acquiring Right of Way.
In response to safety concerns and worsening traffic conditions, TxDOT is planning to widen FM 2931 in Denton. The project is approximately 6.37 miles and will span from US 380 (East University Drive) to FM 428 (Spring Hill Road). The first phase of the project will transform the 2-lane road into a 4-lane, urban roadway and will include the construction of a 42-foot-wide raised median. Phase two will transform FM 2931 into a 6-lane roadway and will add a 3rd lane in each direction.
Approximately 46 acres of new ROW would be required to accommodate the proposed improvements. TxDOT is scheduled to begin Right-of-Way acquisitions in Fall 2021. Before ROW acquisitions can occur, however, TxDOT must still prepare a preliminary design and receive environmental clearance.
The City of Houston is preparing for one of the biggest infrastructure projects in a generation. The project is called the North Houston Improvement Project (NHHIP) and it will reconstruct I-45 from Beltway 8 to Downtown. TxDOT’s goals for the project are to manage congestion, enhance safety and accommodate future growth.
NHHIP is 24 miles in length and will be separated into three segments. Segment 1 will include the widening of the freeway and additional new lanes from IH-610 N Loop and North Sam Houston Tollway. Segment 2 will widen and add new lanes of the portion of I-45 from IH-610 to downtown Houston. Segment 2 will also include a rebuild of the interchange between IH-45 and the IH-610 North Loop. Lastly, Segment 3 includes improvements to the segment of I-45 surrounding downtown Houston. Segment 3 includes the most expensive and all-encompassing improvements, as the entire 12 mile stretch of highway will be rebuilt (including four major interchanges).
The project in its entirety will take over ten years to complete. However, regional planning documents anticipate construction on Segment 3 beginning within the next two years. Segments 1 and 2 will begin construction in five to ten years. TxDOT is currently preparing the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which the public will have the chance to review for 30 days. Following the review period, TxDOT will reach a record of decision and start acquiring Right-of-Way before finally beginning construction.
TxDOT is working on a new project to make improvements to US 79 between I-35 and east of FM 1460 (A.W. Grimes), with the goals of improving traffic flow and increasing safety for travelers in Round Rock. The proposed project includes installing a raised median for safety and widening the existing US 79 roadway by adding a third travel lane in each direction. Additional improvements could potentially include building new overpasses at US 79/Mays Street and US 79/FM 1460, and altering the existing US 79/I-35 intersection.
TxDOT recently concluded the public comment phase on the Draft Environmental Assessment and the recommended build alternative. After taking those public comments into consideration, the next steps (according to the TxDOT project fact sheet) will likely be right of way acquisitions before utility relocation and finally, road construction.
The RM 620 expansion project near Lakeway, Texas is still on track despite some funding shifts. In June, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) voted to move construction funding for the RM 620 expansion to I-35. However, funding for the initial right-of-way expansion still remains and TxDot is going forward with right-of-way acquisitions. TxDot appraisers will be inspecting impacted properties in Fall 2020. Before construction can begin, TxDot must still complete the final schematic and obtain approval of the final environmental study.