WACO, Texas — Interstate 35 is about to get a little more congested as thousands of Baylor students head back to campus.
The major $341 million reconstruction project has a direct impact on the university as well as safety concerns for drivers. Some students have not been on campus since the I-35 construction started. Bridges are down and there's construction on frontage roads and the main lanes of the highway.
Move-in Day started Wednesday and the university is welcoming 3,300 freshmen to campus, which means more drivers on the road.
The Texas Department of Transportation began a four-year reconstruction project in May on a 6-mile stretch of I-35 from North Loop 340 to 12th street.
The construction will have an impact on getting on and off campus, especially with the closing of exit 334A to 4th and 5th streets, as well as the temporary closure of a portion of Dutton Avenue from 5th Street to 8th Street through the fall semester.
Baylor officials said they have to employ a different mindset when it comes to safety.
"We've done as much communication as we can and we'll continue to do so about the changes that will affect Baylor on 1-35,” said Baylor University Spokesman Lori Fogleman. "But the main thing we are asking everyone, and I think this is good for all of us who live and work in Waco, is to be patient, alert, resilient and to know before you go."
Baylor officials said students, faculty, and staff should check real-time traffic conditions to help everyone plan and safely navigate routes through the construction zone.
Among the major changes over the summer are:
- Significant southbound and northbound frontage road work to prepare for mainlane reconstruction beginning in 2020.
- Removal of the 8th Street pedestrian bridge.
- Removal of the 11th/12th street bridge.
- Closing of southbound exit 334A to 4th and 5th streets.
- Temporary closure of a portion of Dutton Avenue from 5th Street to 8th Street through the fall semester (near Martin, Kokernot and Brooks residence halls).
When exiting from the Baylor bookstore parking lot and the Fifth Street parking garage, drivers can only turn right. Expect delays at peak times and a temporary traffic pattern through September on University Parks Drive from Robinson Tower to Dutton Avenue.
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