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New bridge on I-35 to serve as 'gateway' to South Texas

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TWC News: New bridge on I-35 to serve as 'gateway' to South Texas
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When Joyce and Randoll Reagan travel, they like to stop in Waco for the museums. One of their favorites is the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, but it's a little tricky to get to.

"You got to know that you do a loop around the corner, but just follow the instructions on the freeway,” Randoll said.

Museum Director Byron Johnson said though getting there is somewhat confusing, they still draw about 100,000 visitors every year.

"Ninety-percent of our visitors are from outside of this immediate area. We have them coming in here literally from all over the world," he said.

Now, it's about to get easier for tourists as officials with the Texas Department of Transportation and the City of Waco agree on a plan to add a frontage road bridge across the Brazos River along the interstate.

The project aims to make the bridge a landmark, a gateway to South Texas on the Interstate-35 corridor.

"We've seen what Austin, San Antonio, Dallas Metroplex area [have done], along the Interstate-35 corridor, and we share that with those major cities. And we see that opportunity, and we want to certainly do it right," City of Waco spokesman Larry Holze said.

TXDOT officials say they worked closely with the city on the design. They wanted something that would serve as a signature, but would also be a throwback to their historic suspension bridge, also across the Brazos, that's been around for over 100 years.

Also, Baylor University is considering a new sports complex right next to the bridge, which could make it Central Texas' most recognizable landmark.

In the deal between TXDOT and Waco, the city gives up some frontage road access near the river and about one-third of an acre of parkland.

Now that the project can move forward, planners say it could be complete in as little as two-and-a-half years.

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