Why completion on I-35 construction projects keeps getting pushed back

Chris Rogers reports.

For years, the I-35 expansion project has been front and center for drivers in Central Texas. Traffic, delays, and limited lanes have all become a regular part of daily travel. 

However, completion dates for many aspects of the project keep getting moved back.

Last November, Channel 6 sat down with TxDot spokesperson Jodi Wheatley to get some answers as to when certain projects will finally be done.

Back then, Wheatley told Channel 6 that the Bruceville-Eddy and Troy projects were both expected to be completed by the fall of 2017.

One year later, work is nowhere near finished in either of those areas. In fact, a check of TxDot's website, My35.org shows both projects have been moved back another whole year.

"Obviously this is not something TxDOT is proud of," Wheatley said.

It's a problem local lawmakers have taken issue with. State Representative Hugh Shine was part of the committee that investigated TxDOT issues.

"Txdot needs to understand that we need to give people notice when changes take place," Shine said

Shine said part of the problem is there's a big disconnect between TxDOT, and the contractors who are doing the work.

"The real root of the problem is that contracts are being awarded before contractors could even do the work, because of right of way and utilities," Shine said. 

TxDOT said another big obstacle they face is, quite simply, a lack of manpower.

"We're having more trouble getting construction workers for the projects, I know that we had lots for a while and then all the sudden it became harder to find additional help," Wheatley claimed.

Those factors, among others have led to estimated completion dates being pushed back time and time again. It's an issue that isn't lost on state legislators. 

Congressman Carter weighed in on the issue in an interview back with Channel 6 back in August. 

"The contractors bit off more than they could chew, and they got behind the eight ball on time, and that's when we have to come in and jump all over them," Carter said.

Representative Shine plans on bringing the issue to the forefront during the next legislative session. 

"We're going to make sure right of way is purchased, and utilities are moved according to what needs to happen before we start issuing contracts and timeframes of getting projects completed," Shine said. 

In the meantime, as frustration grows, and delays continue all drivers in Central Texas can do ... is wait.

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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