As I pulled onto LBJ at Marsh around 8:30 this morning, heading to the airport, I noticed that construction on the LBJ Express redo has yet to take its toll on traffic, save for the westbound HOV lane shutdown that had some traffic slowed to a fast-paced crawl. Then I got to the office to find the press release that follows, warning of closings beginning this month and bridge demos scheduled to start in September. Yay.
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The 44-year-old Joe Ratcliff Pedestrian Walkway, between Marsh and Webb Chapel, will be stopped in its tracks first -- on August 21. It's supposed to get a makeover and reopen 'round January, which is nice, but also a shame -- that thing's always been just the right amount of awesome and terrifying, and has been the inspiration for no small amount of amazing photos taken in recent years. Doug Becker says kids who use the walkway to get to and from William L. Cabell Elementary will now have to catch a bus in the neighborhood.
Says Lara Kohl, who's handling PR for the project that'll turn the expressway into a managed toll road: "This bridge closure is an important step toward the reconstruction and expansion of this very congested roadway. We ask for patience when the Ratcliff Walkway closes, as we are working to minimize disruptions and to get this work done on time."
On the other side, more good, bad, whatever news: The Marsh, Monfort and Rosser bridges are all due for their demos in a matter of weeks.
Joe Ratcliff Pedestrian Walkway across LBJ Freeway to Close for Construction Beginning August 21, 2011
Walkway is First of Four Bridges to Start Reconstruction by End of October;
Major I-635 Closures Expected Most Weekends
DALLAS - As the dramatic reconstruction of I-635/LBJ Freeway marches forward, developers of the LBJ Express project announced today the closure of the Joe Ratcliff Pedestrian Walkway beginning Sunday, August 21. The existing bridge will be completely rebuilt to accommodate the expansion of I-635 and the creation of continuous access roads.
The LBJ Express is working with the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) to provide bus services to students who use the bridge to walk to and from school. This will occur until January 2012, when the new bridge is expected to be reopened. DISD parents with questions about bus service can contact Doug Becker with DISD at (972) 925-4953.
While construction of the bridge and walkway will not occur until September, the pedestrian walkway is being closed prior to the start of the school year to ensure the safety of students in the area.
"This bridge closure is an important step toward the reconstruction and expansion of this very congested roadway," said Lara Kohl, public relations manager for Trinity Infrastructure LLC, the company in charge of the five-year construction process. "We ask for patience when the Ratcliff Walkway closes, as we are working to minimize disruptions and to get this work done on time."
In addition to the Joe Ratcliff Pedestrian Walkway demolition and reconstruction work, Trinity Infrastructure plans to begin partial or full demolition and reconstruction of the following bridges this fall:
· Montfort Road bridge - late September demolition
· Rosser Road bridge - early October demolition
· Marsh Lane bridge - mid-October demolition
The Montfort and Marsh bridges will remain open with reduced capacity while portions of the bridge are demolished and rebuilt; the Rosser Road bridge is scheduled to be completely closed for approximately 150 days for it to be rebuilt and reopened. Major closures of I-635 main lanes will be required this fall during demolition work at each bridge.
"As we work diligently toward the completion of a new and expanded roadway to serve the region, we want neighbors, businesses and drivers to be well informed about how the different phases of construction may affect their regular routines," said Andy Rittler, director of corporate affairs for LBJ Infrastructure Group LLC, the developer of the LBJ Express project. "Slow down, pay attention and plan ahead by knowing about upcoming construction activities."