OPENING:Dallas TX George Bush Turnpike
By Peter Samuel
But work rolls on at either end. By June 99 13km (8mi) will be open east to Coit Rd with the first mainline plaza. By Dec 99 the open pike should extend further east over I-75. By mid-01 Segment III should be open westward to I-35E. A separate segment V (LBJ-I-635 to Belt Line Rd TX-1382) alongside Dallas-Fort Worth Airport was recently financed with $101m of bonds and will go into construction shortly due to open mid-02. For about two years there will be a gap (Segment IV) until the whole 49km (30.5mi) is open mid-04.
The PGB pike is being built to a basic 2x3-lanes with a 50 (15m) grassed median so it can be widened inward to 2x4. About two-thirds of the length of the new pike will have Texas-style parallel frontage roads, some of which are already in use. These allow slip lanes from the mainline in place of interchanges. By our count there are over 90 entry and exit points and a few short sections avoid tolls. The tolls are 25c on most ramps and 50c at mainline plazas.
There will be 5 mainline toll plazas and probably 26 ramp plazas. All the mainline plazas are being designed for full highway speed open road electronic tolling initially 2x3 open road toll lanes, expandable to 2x4 toll lanes. The non-electronic tolling will be automatic coin machines and toll collectors in conventional plazas off to the sides.
The 49km will have a value of about $950m or $3.2m/lane-km (land and ICs built by TXDOT included.) Financing is a bewildering mix of regular bonds, profit from the existing Dallas North, ISTEA federal loans and donations from TXDOT.
Already there are studies of extensions 14km extra to I-30 east, and at least 10km southward on the west side putting the turnpike on either end of TX-161 toward the city of Grand Prairie. That would make it a 75km (45mi) half outer Beltway around the Dallas area. (Contact Jerry Shelton, NTTA 214 528 2678)