A TxDOT project, set to begin construction this fall, will make getting on and off SPID a lot safer. We're talking about the eastbound side of the highway between Kostoryz and Airline.
The changes include making the current Weber on ramp the new Everhart exit ramp, and the Everhart exit ramp will become the new Everhart on ramp.
The Everhart exit can get very congested during busy times. It's not uncommon to see gridlock backed up onto SPID. Rickey Dailey, a public information officer with TxDOT, says it's a major safety concern for the State.
"You have stopped traffic that is on the exit ramp stopped in a main lane of cars that are going 60 miles an hour," Dailey says.
Then there's dangerous interweaving of vehicles approaching the light from the short ramp and frontage road. It's a problem Ernestine Valadez knows well. She is the co-owner of Academy Window Coverings, which sits just up the road.
"It's very congested and it's hard to, you know, nobody wants to give you space to get in," Valadez says.
Think about it. How many times have you exited Everhart and had to quickly fight through a couple lanes of traffic to make it over to Best Buy or one of the other businesses in that shopping center? Well, when the project is done, you won't exit there, you'll exit all the way down by where the Weber on ramp is, near Cracker Barrel.
TxDOT says the longer exit ramp will stop the back up onto the highway. Plus, it will give drivers much more time to get over if they're, say, going to Best Buy.
"Traffic now has much more frontage road to stack on safely off the main lanes," Dailey says.
This kind of ramp reversal will happen on other parts of SPID as well to accomplish the same things.
However, the Everhart change actually has Valadez concerned. The new exit ramp will begin near her business. She fears traffic won't have enough time to get over.
"We figure that if the people are driving slowly they can see, you know, Academy Windows, or I don't know if they're just going to ignore us and move on," she says.
TxDOT is eager to get construction started. The project, which is expected to take four years, experienced a year long delay while the State secured right of way.
The project is expected to cost nearly $50 million.
Here is the entire scope of the project.
- The existing ramp to Kostoryz/Carroll will be moved about 1,000 feet to the west.
- The existing entrance ramp just after Kostoryz will remain.
- The existing exit ramp to Weber Road will be moved about 1,000 feet to the west, just after the Carroll Lane overpass
- The new exit ramp to Everhart will begin just after the Weber overpass where the entrance ramp from Weber is now located. The new entrance ramp will be where the current Everhart exit ramp is now. This area will look similar to the existing westbound frontage road at La Palmera Mall which has three lanes - two through lanes and one entrance/exit lane.
- The new exit ramp to Staples will begin just after the Everhart overpass, where the entrance ramp from Everhart is now located.
- The new entrance ramp from Everhart will be built where the existing exit ramp for Staples is now.
- At the Staples overpass, the existing exit ramp to Airline will be moved about 400 feet to the west and the existing entrance ramp from Staples will be moved about 400 feet to the east. This will allow more time for motorists to weave onto or off of SPID by creating more distance between the two ramps.