In mid-February, Texas Department of Transportation officials said the completion of Interstate 35 through Temple should be this spring — by the end of May, if heavy spring rains didn’t change that.
TxDOT spokesman Kenneth Roberts told the Telegram on Tuesday that the interstate would have “four lanes in each direction by the end of May.”
Roberts said the “substantial completion date” for all I-35 projects in Temple is this summer and will include main lanes, ramp openings and bridges/overpasses.
“Work is proceeding well and the ‘summer completion’ takes into consideration the opening of bridges/overpasses and the completion of final ‘punch list’ items to close out the project.”
Roberts said the close of the project will occur sometime during the summer.
“A specific date this summer is not currently available,” Roberts said.
The entire Temple I-35 project was supposed to begin a year earlier, but right of way and utility issues caused the project to stall, TxDOT engineer Solomon Thomas told the Temple Chamber of Commerce in mid-February at a forum.
Rep. Hugh Shine of Temple was aware there were problems, he told the Telegram on Tuesday.
“It has been a real difficult challenge,” Shine said. “Over the past two years I’ve established a relationship with TxDOT and the railroad. There have been multiple issues.”
Shine said he is very concerned.
“I’ve discovered a lack of coordination, cooperation and misunderstandings in the process by all entities involved,” he said. “We’ll have a meeting this week to determine a course of action to take. It’s the people in the community who bear the brunt of what happens.”
Temporary closures from Saturday evening through late Sunday morning will lead to the opening of new lanes, Roberts said Tuesday.
The temporary closures begin at 8 p.m. Saturday and end at 11:45 a.m. Sunday. One lane of northbound I-35 will close between Exit 302 (Nugent Avenue) and North Loop 363 so crews can stripe new pavement, reset concrete barriers and move northbound traffic onto the new pavement — one lane at a time.
Temporary Exit 304 to North Loop 363 will permanently close during this time frame, too, Roberts said.
When the work is done, drivers will be using two lanes of new pavement from Baker Boulevard to North Loop 363.
The permanent new Exit 303 to access Spur 290/Industrial Boulevard/Third Street and the new Exit 304 to North Loop 363 will open, as will the new Loop 363 entrance ramp, according to Roberts.
The new Exit 304 was supposed to be finished by about March 2, TxDOT mobility coordinator John Habermann previously said.
The work previously was planned for March 2-3, but bad weather led to the rescheduling to this weekend. Work will go as planned — weather permitting.
Drivers are advised to pay attention, obey traffic control equipment and signs in work zones and be ready for changes in traffic as the work continues.