The funding for the planned interchange for I-35 and US Highway 82 has come in after a cooperative effort by the Texas Department of Transportation and the City of Gainesville.
A press release sent out by the TxDOT Wichita Falls District office on Monday said the funding in the amount of $11.3 million for the $14.3 million project was granted by the Texas Transportation Commission. TxDOT’s Wichita Falls District will fund the extra $3 million for the project.
The $11.3 million comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) money. Because dozens of TxDOT jobs around the state came in at a lower bid than expected, there was money to be put toward the I-35/Highway 82 interchange, according to the release.
The City of Gainesville is also pledging $56,000 in funding for the interchange and also monies from the Governor’s Community Achievement Award (Keep Gainesville Beautiful) will be used for a beautification area.
City of Gainesville Mayor Glenn Loch thanked TxDOT for putting the funds toward the interchange.
“The city is grateful that TXDOT Wichita Falls District Engineer Larry Tegtmeyer committed $3 million of his discretionary maintenance funds to fill in the funding gap in order for this project to move forward,” Loch said.
Gainesville City Manager Barry Sullivan said they weren’t expecting the money to come through, and the city was elated last week when they found out it was.
“We have been working on the interchange project a long time,” Sullivan said. “Since I’ve been here we’ve been working on it with TxDOT.”
Sullivan said they have worked many avenues to try to accomplish the project, even planning to possibly divide up the project and build it in phases, or cut out some parts of the project to make it more affordable.
Because the money became available when other TxDOT projects came in under bid, Sullivan said that Tegtmeyer’s decision was to put $3 million toward the I-35/Highway 82 interchange. Because it was a “shovel-ready project” it was eligible for the funding. There were a number of projects on the list, Sullivan said, but Tegmeyer made it plain that the interchange was a district priority.
Sullivan said the project will bring greater safety to the Gainesville roads and make access to the city easier and safer.
Sullivan said the money coming from the City of Gainesville and some of the Keep Gainesville Beautiful award will go toward the welcome-type beautification area at the interchange. Some of the money will also be for some right-of-ways. The welcome beautification area and some of the right-of-ways will cost approximately $200,000.
“This is great. This will help make it easier to access different portions of the city and gets our access up to par with the rest of the state,” he noted.
Congressman Michael Burgess, M.D. District 26, expressed his support for use of the transportation funds.
“I'm pleased that as a result of cooperation between TxDOT and the leadership in Gainesville, an efficient use of transportation funds has been identified to creatively fund completion of this important project,” Burgess said.
If the project lets in September, as scheduled, construction could start as early as this winter.
The interchange project will include rebuilding all four ramps of the I-35/US 82 as a diamond interchange, widening the US 82 overpass of I-35, adding turnarounds on 82, building a turnaround at FM 51 for South to North traffic, and converting the frontage roads along I-35 to one-way.
The project is scheduled to take two years to complete.