Construction begins on Tarrant County highway projects

Work is starting on two major highway projects in Tarrant County.

State transportation officials said they are trying to reduce the gridlock along some of the most congested roadways in Texas. They’re set to break ground Monday afternoon on the project at Interstate 635 and Highway 121, just north of DFW Airport.

The price tag for the project is $370 million. It will reconstruct and widen a 3-mile stretch of 121. That will allow for a new interchange where it intersects with Highway 26 and FM 2499.

Another bad spot of gridlock in northeast Tarrant County is on East Loop 820 between Randall Mill and Pipeline roads. The groundbreaking ceremony for that $174 million project is also set for Monday.

The 3-mile stretch of freeway is getting a major makeover with additional lanes in both directions. The Trinity River bridges are being replaced and there will be new direct connectors to 121.

The statewide projects are part of the governor's Texas Clear Lanes Initiative to ease congestion.

"It's gonna help the men and women who go to their jobs or take kids to school,” said TxDOT Commission Chairman J. Bruce Bugg.

The challenge is keeping up with the steady growth in vehicle traffic. Texas has a population of about 27 million and estimated to grow to 54 million in about three decades.

"It's an ongoing effort about the time we get one place fixed,” said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley. “Because of the growth, a lot of time it creates another choke point we have to keep working on."

Construction will require frequent and regular lane closures but transportation officials said that will almost always happen in the overnight hours.

These two North Texas projects do not include any tolled lanes. They are set to be completed in 2022.