The Texas 360 toll road will pass some major milestones in the next two months with new arterial bridges opening, but the main toll lanes won’t be open for another year.
Workers opened the Webb Lynn Road/Lynn Creek Parkway bridge this weekend, allowing motorists to go from Arlington to Grand Prairie. The U-turn lanes on either side of the bridge will open later, said Keith Bilbrey, public information coordinator for the 360 South project.
Next up, the new East Broad Street bridge is scheduled to open in early June, reuniting east and west Mansfield, Bilbrey said. Drivers have been forced to take a detour on Holland Road for almost a year. With Broad Street opening, workers will close Holland Road to build a bridge for that road. That connection won’t be finished until spring 2018.
The $330 million project will build main lanes with tolls from just south of Green Oaks Boulevard to just north of U.S. 287. The 9.7-mile project will be built by the Texas Department of Transportation and will be maintained by the North Texas Tollway Authority. It will have two toll lanes in each direction with continuous frontage roads that will remain free.
The highway construction has caused headaches for residents who live in Lowe’s Farm near the intersection of East Broad Street and Texas 360. Dan Peters, newly elected president of the Lowe’s Farm Homeowners Association, said he sometimes takes U.S. 287 all the way to the junction with Texas 360 to avoid dealing with the U-turns and detours on the arterial streets.
Shutting down Holland Road will create more headaches but they will have to grin and bear it, Peters said.
Ultimately, Peters and his neighbors are looking forward to the day when the toll lanes are complete.
“You know the infrastructure will support better property values when it becomes easier and more convenient for people to live in the suburbs and commute to businesses and other locations,” Peters said.
Mansfield Mayor David Cook said he expects the East Broad Street bridge re-opening to have an instant economic benefit for the city. “I think the contractor’s done a great job of maneuvering traffic with minimal delay,” Cook said. “We’re very excited to get Broad Street re-opened and getting the entire roadway completed.”
The Heritage Parkway bridge also is expected to open this summer. Utility relocation took longer than expected for all the bridges, Bilbrey said.
The Camp Wisdom Road/Sublett Road bridge just started construction near an extremely busy retail center. “We’re going to try to have that finished by the end of the year,” he said. “The detour is in and we’ve started to pour the pillars now for the bridge there.”
The Debbie Lane/Ragland Road bridge is scheduled for completion in the fall.
The New York Avenue bridge is still waiting for utility relocations and is behind schedule. Unlike the other bridges, the toll lanes will actually go over the arterial street at New York Avenue.
The project hit another snag when the Army Corps of Engineers required a large stretch of the new toll lanes be elevated through the Joe Pool Lake floodplain, Bilbrey said. Workers are building a 2,900-foot bridge from just south of Debbie Lane/Ragland Road to Holland Road through that area now.
On the far south end of the project, a new U.S. 287 bridge is being built so traffic on that highway can zoom over Texas 360 without stopping at a traffic light. “It will be a continuous flow of traffic there on 287,” Belbrey said. Frontage roads and on-ramps will connect Texas 360 to U.S. 287.
The North Texas Tollway Authority hasn’t determined what toll prices will be for the new lanes when they open in the spring 2018, Bilbrey said.
What’s it called?
The new toll road could have different names depending on where you are driving.
A pair of bills in the 2017 Texas Legislature would rename this new Texas 360 toll road to honor a former state representative and civil rights icon.
Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, filed House Bill 3897 to rename the northern portion of the toll road the Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the front of the bus in Montgomery, Ala., sparking a city-wide boycott of the bus system in 1955. Actions there sparked action across the country to end segregation.
The Rosa Parks designation goes from Sublett Road/Camp Wisdom Road south to the Mansfield border at Walnut Creek.
Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, filed House Bill 2746 to rename the toll road the Senator Chris Harris Memorial Highway from the Mansfield border south to U.S. 287.
Harris, 67, died in 2015 after serving in the Texas House from 1985-1990 and in the Texas Senate from 1991-2013. Cook said Harris played a critical role in getting Texas 360 completed during his 28 years representing the region so the name change is well deserved. Harris made his last public appearance at the groundbreaking for the toll lane project.
“He fought for funding all throughout,” Cook said. “It seems appropriate that that would be his last public appearance was on a matter related to Texas 360.” Cook was a law school intern when he first started working with Harris in 1993. The two became law partners in 2004.
Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, filed a companion bill in the Texas Senate for the Harris name.