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Wednesday, June 10

I-35 SAMMC

To be honest, the last post dedicated specifically to the I-35 SAMMC project may well have been read by Sam Houston himself. The dearth of dedicated posts comes simply from a backlog of other stuff and a running project status that can be summed up by simply saying, "it's still going on, and we're still on target to finish the end of 2016."

That said, there's some major stuff that's quietly gone on with the I-35 SAMMC project, and it's time we give this project some appropriate attention. Please, accept our apologies for the blog silence!

Traffic switches
If you're on northbound I-410 and connecting to northbound I-35, Sunday morning you started using a brand new ramp. The new connector is elevated, towering over the old connector. With the new connector came the reopening of the northbound I-410 entrance ramp from Binz-Engleman. That ramp had been closed for about a year, and traffic from Binz-Engleman has been moving through the Rittiman Road intersection to reach its destination.
The new northbound I-410 connector to northbound I-35 is seen in use, allowing work underneath and in the footprint of the old connector to move forward. The opening under this elevated connector will bridge the future northbound I-35 exit to Rittiman Road.
This is one of a handful of traffic changes in this I-35/I-410 interchange on the south end of this project. A few months ago the southbound I-35 connector to southbound I-410 was switched to a right-side exit, improving traffic flow for southbound traffic.

In a few weeks, by the way, that right-hand exit will actually put traffic onto the southbound frontage road before guiding traffic onto the connector bridge. This will allow crews to work on the permanent ramp approach, which will allow a stronger flow of traffic to use southbound I-410 from southbound I-35.

Drainage and such
Meanwhile, crews will be addressing some concerns with drainage on the new southbound I-35 through lanes running under the I-410 connector. That work will be done over upcoming weeks - much of it at night - and could help move water off the road in the event of another record-breaking month of rain like we had in June.
Traffic is moving on the southbound I-35 main lanes, running under the connector to southbound I-410 near SAMMC. During the major rain events of May, this area became saturated with water. Project bosses are working on a solution to improve drainage.
"Plugging along"
Most of the project really is "we're plugging along". Crews are busily working to widen I-35 main lanes overpasses at Rittiman Road, Eisenhower and at Randolph Boulevard. This work has necessitated the closure of turnarounds at Rittiman and Eisenhower, but project bosses are saying they'll have those turnarounds reopened for use (during the daytime, at least) by the end of summer. The work on overhead structures will continue to require overnight lane closures similar to what's been done for the last couple of weeks through the month of July.
Bridge work continues over Rittiman Road. Most of this work is done overnight. This photo was taken from a parked vehicle, lest there be any doubts.
All in all, the project is on pace to wrap up the end of 2016.

Secondary work
Just south of all this work is a much smaller job that's intended to help traffic flow along I-35 on the east side of town. The work looks like part of the same project, mostly because the same contractor - LANE Construction - is doing the work. From a paperwork perspective, though, it is a different job.

The scope of work is to add an auxiliary lane connecting the entrance and exit ramps running over Salado Creek. This will help improve safety, giving entering traffic a longer route to speed up to highway speeds. It will also give exiting traffic a little more time to slow down to frontage road speeds.

The biggest thing to be aware of here for now is the routine of daily closures of an occasional frontage road lane between Binz-Engleman and AT&T Parkway. Work on this project will finish this fall.

One more item
As a reminder, the speed limit on the main lanes of I-35 here is 55 miles per hour. Anyone can stand by a portable speed trailer (that reads and displays the speed of passing vehicles) for less than 25 seconds and know that's not what people are doing. Speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour are being reached by traffic near Rittiman Road. These speeds negate the safety features of our project area.

If you drive through this area, please SLOW DOWN. 
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