Downtown Fort Worth? You almost can't get there from here

Why is it so hard to get in and out of downtown Fort Worth these days? It seems we have a perfect storm of road construction projects happening at once. (Video by Max Faulkner/Star-Telegram)
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Why is it so hard to get in and out of downtown Fort Worth these days? It seems we have a perfect storm of road construction projects happening at once. (Video by Max Faulkner/Star-Telegram)

Your Commute

Tired of fighting road construction downtown? Here’s how long it’s going to last

By Gordon Dickson

August 28, 2017 06:00 AM

Thousands of people who drive into downtown Fort Worth each day know that road construction has made their commute a nightmare for months.

So if you’re headed downtown for the next Lockheed Martin job fair on Tuesday morning, particularly on I-35 from the north of Airport Freeway from the east, be prepared for orange cones and traffic tie-ups.

What’s up with all the road construction? Here’s an update on the projects and how long the work is expected to last.

Downtown Fort Worth traffic mess

There's so much construction of roads leading in and out of downtown Fort Worth, it's difficult to drive no matter which direction you're going. Click on markers and lines for more details on some of the trouble spots.

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A few blocks east of the Tarrant County Courthouse, workers have been repairing pavement and closing lanes since last fall on these twin one-way roads that bring drivers in and out of downtown Fort Worth.

In December, city officials said the work likely would be completed in a matter of weeks. But as recently as last week, the work was still ongoing. Westbound Belknap Street, which is normally three lanes wide, was reduced to one lane. During morning rush hour, delays of five minutes have been common.

But there’s good news: the work is scheduled to be completed before this week’s Lockheed Martin job fair.

“Our project on the Weatherford and Belknap bridges will be completed with the lanes reopened by Monday morning Aug. 28, weather permitting,” city spokeswoman Cindy Vasquez said in an email.

Belknap streets, east of the Tarrant County courthouse, traffic is reduced to one lane while a city contractor repairs pavement in Fort Worth, TX, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
Max Faulkner

Back in December, Richard Martinez, Fort Worth assistant director of public works, explained that the city’s contractor was originally planning to close only one lane but saw more severe concrete damage than originally expected and decided to close the additional lane to take care of the problem.

Also, the left lane in each direction is closed at I-35W to make way for new freeway ramps as part of the $1 billion I-35W makeover. Those closures are expected to remain in place until next fall. That work is the responsibility of North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners, a group of companies hired by the Texas Department of Transportation to rebuild the freeway.

Spur 280

Southbound I-35W traffic has been unable to exit at Spur 280 since last year, and the exit is likely to remain closed for about another year. It’s being rebuilt as part of the $1.6 billion I-35W makeover. For northbound traffic, Spur 280 leading into downtown via Fourth and Sixth streets is still open.

For traffic leaving downtown on Spur 280, the entrance ramps to I-35W from Fifth and Seventh streets are open in both directions, but the northbound ramp is usually crowded because of a right lane closure near Texas 121 “Airport Freeway” and delays of several minutes are common.

I-35W traffic flows northbound just south of Spur 280 in Fort Worth, TX, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
Max Faulkner

“That situation could improve in the next couple of weeks,” project spokesman Tommy Williamson said.

White Settlement Road/Henderson

White Settlement Road is closed at the new Henderson Street roundabout, but detours are posted. Two bridges are under construction as part of the Panther Island project.

Fourth Street

Another popular shortcut out of downtown for motorists heading east, Fourth Street, is under construction under the I-35W overpasses with frequent lane closures.

“We’re looking at various intermittent lane and street closures on Fourth Street until possibly December,” Vasquez said. “These have mostly been night closures but we may be approached about day closures before this work is completed.”

The workers found the remains in March 2016 while they were digging a trench at the corner of Lexington and Weatherford in downtown Fort Worth.


A construction crew hit a gas main, causing a significant leak on the east side of downtown.


Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796, @gdickson