Highway to hell or heaven?
Photos by Danny Fulgencio
Bill Clinton was president when Lake Highlands leaders first began dreaming of a glorious new LBJ Freeway. Those ambitious planners named the new road “LBJ Ultimate.”
Twenty years passed, with negotiations and meetings.
Eventually, some privately hoped they could just achieve “LBJ Anything-But-This.”
A handful of the original dreamers are still around, and a new generation of fed-up motorists joined them. Now this volunteer squad appears to have pulled off a moon shot. They have the money — about $1.6 billion. They have a plan. And if we hang on for six or seven more years, engineers say we should be able to average 50 mph at rush hour along the 11 miles of Interstate 635 between U.S. Highway 75 and Interstate 30.
This stretch of interstate, now known by the modest handle “LBJ East,” will have more free lanes and one or two express lanes to soak up some of the excess traffic. Continuous frontage roads will replace the fragmented patchwork of access roads that confuse today’s drivers and render a lot of prime real estate worthless for business development.
Many in Lake Highlands consider the crown jewel of the project to be the Skillman Gateway, an arched bridge that will flow into an all-new interchange and straighten out the bewildering maze where Audelia and Skillman meet.
Concrete pillars supporting sound-damping walls are popping up near homes that back up to LBJ. Homeowners have been begging for these walls for years, desperate for some relief from the droning roar of traffic.
A few of the project’s champions reflected on the bruising journey that brought us to this point. And they recall, most important, their delighted amazement as a platoon of rookie civic activists joined them at the eleventh hour.
“It was the community getting active and fighting for what is most important to them and just watching it,” Dallas City Councilman Adam McGough says. “For me, it was a beautiful thing.”
Click on the questions below to find out more about LBJ East.