Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Waco bridge project changing Interstate-35 access

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TWC News: Waco bridge project changing Interstate-35 access
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Along Interstate-35, construction barrels can be seen everywhere--and now they've come to Buzzard Billy's, a popular Waco restaurant.

“I don't understand why it all has to hit at once, but here it is," Buzzard Billy’s Co-Owner Tracy Maugham said. “They're going to let me stay here, unmolested, I don't know. They're going to take some of the parking, so there's going to be a little inconvenience on the parking side of it."

Starting Wednesday, TXDOT shut down the turnaround lanes at the Brazos to begin construction on new suspension bridges for the access roads.

When it was constructed in the 1960s, I-35 was considered the newest "Super Highway" through Central Texas, but by modern design standards, it's inadequate.

The biggest flaw is that access roads along the highway stop at the river, and the only way to cross is to get on the inteterstate.

The new structures will solve that problem and provide a direct route from the Baylor campus to the new stadium now under construction.

"People will be on the access roads sooner and longer so that it's less dangerous and less difficult to get where you're going once you're there," Jodi Wheatley with the Texas Department of Transportation said.

In the short term, TxDOT is working closely with businesses to ease the stress of the construction phase.

"TxDOT has worked as hard as they can to work with me to make it as convenient for both of us and still get the huge project done," Maugham said. "Most of the traffic that uses that area anyway is going to the restaurant."

Despite the inconveniences, Maugham says it’s short term pain that will have long term gains for the city of Waco.

The north bank project is expected to wrap up in about six months.

The more complex south shore timeline hasn't been finalized, but TXDOT says it expects the entire project to be mostly complete for the 2014 Baylor Stadium grand opening.

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