Interstate 35 West or I -35W is an Interstate Highway in the US state of Texas. It is one of two branches of Interstate 35 in Texas that splits through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in the north of the state. The I-35W passes through the city of Fort Worth and is the shorter and above all quieter route. Through traffic to Oklahoma can therefore best use the I-35W. The other branch is Interstate 35E. The I-35W is 137 kilometers long.
The starting point of I-35W at Hillsboro.
The Fort Worth Mixmaster with I-30.
Just north of the town of Hillsboro, Interstate 35 from San Antonio splits into two branches, Interstate 35E to Dallas and Interstate 35W to Fort Worth. I-35W runs through a quiet, rural area with 2×2 lanes. After about 40 kilometers you cross the US 67 at Alvarado, which leads to Dallas. You then reach Fort Worth’s first suburb, Burleson. From here, I-35W counts 2×3 lanes. A little further north, one crosses Interstate 20, which comes from El Paso and Abilene and runs to Dallas. After this, I-35W counts 2×4 lanes.
You then reach downtown Fort Worth, where you first cross Interstate 30, which begins just west of the city and runs to Dallas. Shortly thereafter, US 287 merges from Arlington, for a double numbering of about 15 kilometers. Shortly thereafter, SH 121 turns off, a highway to DFW Airport and McKinney. I-35W then has a parallel structure with toll lanes and regular lanes, which is wide, but whose through capacity largely consists of 4×2 lanes. The highway then crosses the West Fork of the Trinity River. On the north side of Fort Worth follows an immense interchange with Interstate 820, which forms a ring road around the city. This node has a large number of flyovers. After that, I-35W has 3+2+2+3 lanes and frontage roads and braids. Then US 81 and US 287 split off to Wichita Falls.
According to topschoolsintheusa, I-35W then runs through suburban areas north of Fort Worth, gradually thinning out the built-up area. To the east are some small suburbs and neighbourhoods, to the west still mostly undeveloped prairie land. Just north of Fort Worth, SH 170 exits east. At Texas Motor Speedway, one crosses SH 114, the main road to Dallas. You then pass through countryside and reach the town of Denton for about 20 miles, where Interstate 35E rejoins and Interstate 35 continues to Oklahoma City.
Before I-35W was built, there were two US Highways on this corridor, US 81 between Hillsboro and Forth Worth and US 377 between Fort Worth and Denton. The region’s main through route at the time was US 77, which passed through Dallas.
Construction of I-35W, then US 81, was one of Fort Worth’s top priorities, as was I-30 to the west. Construction began on the first section south of Downtown in May 1946, and the first section opened on September 14, 1949. By 1955, I-35W through south Fort Worth was completed. In 1958, the Mixmaster Interchange opened with I-30 on the south side of Downtown Fort Worth. The I-35W originally had no guide rail, just a tarmac raised median strip about three feet wide. The guide rail was added in 1960. During the 1980s, this portion of I-35W was widened from 2×2 to 2×4 lanes, completed in 1989. The cloverleaf cloverleaf between I-20 and I-35W, opened in 1957, was converted into a stack in 1990.
Construction on the portion north of Downtown Fort Worth began a little later, after the creation of the Interstate Highway-system. Construction began north of I-30 in 1958, and the highway was eventually opened in phases in the 1960s between Fort Worth and Denton. The section in Fort Worth itself was completed in 1966, in 1969 the highway reached I-35E at Denton. I-35W ran through undeveloped area for a long time, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the area started to develop somewhat, but even today the I-35W corridor is not as developed as I-35E north of Dallas. Alliance Airport opened in 1989 and the Texas Motor Speedway opened in 1997, both along I-35W north of Fort Worth, making this route more crowded. After 2000, the region started to become heavily urbanized with large-scale new residential areas. Frontage roads along I-35W between US 81 and I-820 were constructed in 2001.
Fort Worth Mixmaster
The Mixmaster Interchange in Fort Worth.
The Mixmaster Interchange is the interchange between I-30 and I-35W at Downtown Fort Worth. This interchange opened in March 1958 and quickly became notorious for its substandard design, with tight turns and many forks. Completed in 1960, the interchange was the first 4-level interchange in Texas. The node was replaced in the late 1990s by a much more spacious and larger stack node, which opened in 2001. The old Mixmaster Interchange was the Fort Worth area’s biggest bottleneck between the 1960s and 1990s.
I-35W / I-820 interchange
The interchange between I-35W and I-820 on the north side of Fort Worth was a typical 1960s design with left-hand exits and a lane split. Therefore, turning traffic could maintain a relatively high speed compared to a cloverleaf, but the left-hand in and outs became problematic with higher traffic intensities. The node has been drastically reconstructed in two phases into a stack with 12 flyovers. The large number of flyovers is a result of the construction of express lanes on I-35W and I-820, which have their own flyovers for turning traffic.
First up, the flyovers were constructed as part of the North Tarrant Express Phase 1, with express lanes being built on I-820 between 2011 and 2014. In fact, these were just two flyovers, with the rest of the interchange not yet reconstructed. The second reconstruction followed at the North Tarrant Express Phase 2, where express lanes were built on I-35W between 2015 and 2018. The rest of the interchange was also reconstructed into a stack with 12 flyovers and lanes that go straight through the interchange into instead of split.
North Tarrant Express
I-35W originally had only 2×2 lanes north of Downtown Fort Worth, a major bottleneck due to the rapidly increasing traffic in the region. Tarrant County’s population grew by one million between 1990 and 2017.
North Tarrant Express was a mega project to build express lanes in the Fort Worth area. The first phase included I-820 and SH 121, the second phase included I-35W between Downtown Forth Worth and US 81/287 north of Fort Worth and cost $1.4 billion. 2×2 express toll lanes have been constructed on this corridor that connect to the express lanes of I-820. The interchange between I-35W and I-820 has thus become one of the most complex in the United States, in addition to the regular 8 flyovers, 4 more flyovers have been constructed for the express lanes. Despite the enormous reconstruction and space requirement of the express lanes, the capacity is essentially not very large, mostly 8 to 10 lanes for through traffic. The work was complex near downtown Fort Worth, where 4 highway interchanges are located within 2 km².
Preparatory work on I-35W began in late 2013, with an official groundbreaking ceremony on May 14, 2014. The corridor has been completely redesigned, with new frontage roads, general purpose lanes and express lanes. On July 21, 2017, the first phase of the 5 kilometer express lanes between I-820 and US 81/287 opened. Subsequently, on April 5, 2018, an additional 6 kilometers of express lanes were opened between Northside Drive and I-820. An opening ceremony for I-35W followed on July 19, 2018, although some flyovers at Downtown Fort Worth were not yet ready. Later in 2018, I-35W was also completed near downtown Fort Worth.
I-35W at I-20 in south Fort Worth.
South Fort Worth
North Fort Worth
The next phase is to extend the express lanes northwards to Alliance Airport, an important airport for freight transport. Also nearby is a large container transfer center and the Texas Motor Speedway which periodically draws heavy traffic. Also, the I-35W area between Fort Worth and Denton is becoming more suburbanized. The widening north of Alliance Airport is planned to become 2×4 lanes to the Denton County border. The extension north to Eagle Parkway at Alliance Airport began construction in August 2019 following a financial close from concessionary Ferrovial. It is considered the third phase of the North Tarrant Express. This project should be completed by mid-2023. It is planned to widen the northernmost portion in Denton County from 2×2 to 2×3 lanes until it merges with I-35E in Denton.
The data below are intensities after the relevant exit.