TEMPLE, Texas — Good news for drivers in Temple. The long-awaited I-35 construction project is finally, mostly, complete.

The 57th Street Bridge is one of the final pieces of a multi-million dollar project. A ribbon cutting event was held at the 57th Street Bridge Thursday at 9 a.m. to celebrate the completion of the project and open the bridge to traffic.

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Here's what the project entailed. 

  • The main lanes were widened to four lanes in each direction.
  • Most bridges were rebuilt, except South and North Loop 363.
  • The on and off ramps were upgraded and made longer.
  • Crossings and U-turns were added to most intersections.
  • The merge point of SH 53 and FM 2305/Adams Ave. was moved farther west, allowing the I-35/Adams-Central interchange to be redesigned.
  • The area around Industrial Blvd/Spur 290 was significantly reconfigured.

Assistant Temple city manager Erin Smith said many people are happy with the completion of the project.

"The I-35 expansion project completion is incredibly important. There are visitors, Temple residents, and business owners who utilize I-35 every day to get to important Temple destinations such as retail shops, restaurants, and other destinations," Smith said.

So why are drivers still seeing so much orange? Well, it's not quite done.

"There is going to be some striping, some lanes that are closed as we complete the striping, some additional traffic signals that need to be turned on," Ken Roberts, a TxDOT spokeperson said.

Roberts said the project still has a few more months before it's truly finished, but it should be done by the end of 2019.

That proposed completion date will be a long time coming. 

The $241 million Temple I-35 construction project began in May 2013. Roberts said, at the time, it was the single largest contract led by the Waco district. It is now the second largest, with the current I-35 construction project in Waco being the first. 

Its completion date had been moved from around 2017 to summer 2018 to spring 2019 and so on.

The good news is Roberts said the actual highway through Temple won't be changing anytime soon.

"There is no intent to add additional capacity to I-35 as it passes through Temple," Roberts said.

So, in just a few months, traveling should be a smoother ride for Temple drivers.

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