It’s been a long time since work has been done on the flyover bridge alongside westbound U.S. Highway 190, a state highway project that began in fall 2010.
The elevated section of roadway is expected to connect northbound Interstate 35 to westbound U.S. 190 by fall 2015, officials at the Texas Department of Transportation said.
An issue with right-of-way purchases at other areas on the project — not a lack of funding — caused the flyover construction to start early and stop abruptly, said Jodi Wheatley, I-35 information specialist at TxDOT.
“The contractor took a look at what he had available and started work on it early,” Wheatley said.
The flyover is part of a $106.8 million project to expand I-35 and its frontage roads between Salado and Belton.
A fast-paced work schedule put the contractor ahead of the state’s land purchases along I-35, which requires more right of way for the new frontage roads under construction.
“Since the right-of-way purchases were not complete, they decided to get working on something that they could continue to work on,” Wheatley said.
Contractors are expected to resume construction on the flyover in the fall of this year.
When complete, the flyover will significantly benefit traffic headed toward Fort Hood, Belton residents and commuters who pass through the interchange on a daily basis.
Existing infrastructure requires northbound I-35 traffic headed for westbound U.S. 190 to stop at a stop sign at Texas State Highway 317, then travel under the I-35 overpass in Belton.
Although cars will no longer have to stop in their city, Belton officials do not foresee any negative economic impact of the flyover.
When vehicles pass under I-35 in Belton, they do not pass any significant commercial areas, city spokesman Paul Romer said.
“It’s really a convoluted way to exit off the interstate as it is now,” Romer said. “(The intersection) really creates some traffic issues in the area that will be alleviated by the project.”
The U.S. 190 flyover is a small part of a $1.9 billion project to widen I-35 to three lanes in each direction for 80 miles between San Antonio and Hillsboro.
Most of the construction will occur in the Waco District, which stretches from Hill County to Bell County, Wheatley said. The entire I-35 expansion is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
For daily updates on the I-35 expansion, including lane closures and travel speeds, go to TxDOT’s website, my35.org.