ARLINGTON — Eastbound travelers on Interstate 20 in Arlington can expect delays this weekend: A round of lane closures for the Center Street flyover construction project are planned for Friday and Saturday nights. Workers will close the inside eastbound lane each day at 7 p.m., between Cooper Street and New York Avenue, and then shut all eastbound lanes at 9 p.m. to install 15 concrete support beams for the bridge. Traffic will be detoured to the eastbound service road until all lanes are reopened at 6 a.m. the following day, said Keith Brooks, the city’s engineering operations manager. Because of the increased traffic expected on the service roads, the bridges over Collins Street and Matlock Road will be closed, with Collins traffic detoured to New York Avenue, and Matlock traffic detoured to Cooper Street during the lane shutdowns.
Other lane closures are scheduled to occur in August as part of the $10.4 million construction project to extend Center Street southward to Bardin Road from its current end, just south of Highlander Boulevard. Construction on the 3/4-mile project, including the 600-foot-long bridge, began in October and is expected to conclude in the spring or summer of 2016. It will relieve traffic congestion in the area as it provides east and southeast Arlington another north-south thoroughfare, said Val Lopez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation’s regional office in Fort Worth. The agency is overseeing the project for the city. “I think this is going to increase mobility and safety for motorists” Lopez said.
The city is financing the construction by selling certificates of obligation, which are similar to bonds but don’t require a public election. The debt will be repaid with revenues from a tax increment reinvestment zone, a special taxing district that collects a portion of property taxes from a geographic area and uses it for infrastructure and other improvements within that district. This TIRZ was set up 10 years ago mainly to assist the start up of the Arlington Highlands. About half of the total 60 concrete beams for the bridge were installed during lane closures last month. The remaining 15 beams would be planted on a Monday night in August. The exact date hasn’t been determined, Brooks said.
Until this week, the upcoming work was going to be Friday night only, but with a later reopening —noon Saturday. Officials decided that the two-day schedule with an earlier reopening on both days would be more convenient for motorists, Brooks said. The bridge and the new roadway would be four lanes, although the bridge is being built to accommodate six lanes in the future. A two-directional hike-and-bike lane will extend the length of the northbound lanes of the new road and bridge, connecting with an existing path along Center north of Highlander Boulevard.The Center Street bridge will be a flyover: It won’t allow direct access from Center Street to the I-20 service roads because the state considers it too close to Matlock Road, officials said. But travelers will be able double back on side streets to reach the highway frontage roads.
Most of the construction path south of I-20 slices through open, undeveloped property, where it is sure to spark growth. Arlington Municipal Airport, which has dealt with a drastic decrease in flights during the Great Recession, is poised and waiting. The airport, south of I-20 and west of South Collins Street, received two state grants totaling $450,000 last year for facility improvements and a 10-year master plan, which officials have said will focus on the west side, near Center Street’s path to Bardin Road.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann_ST