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Is I-35 project 2 years ahead of schedule?

A spokesperson with TxDOT says the contractor has spent 85 percent of contract dollars in 68 percent of the contract time.

WACO, Texas — The construction along I-35 in Waco can feel like it's never ending. If you're wondering when it will finally be over, well it could be sooner than you think.

Baylor University posted a tweet Wednesday saying the I-35 project through Waco is set to be complete two years ahead of schedule, but TxDOT stops short of confirming that with 6 News.

Jake Smith, the public information officer for TxDOT's Waco District says the project is moving along nicely but wouldn't elaborate on how ahead of schedule the project is and would not confirm Baylor University's statement of it being two years ahead.

"When TxDOT originally put the My 35 project out for bid, it was four or five years," he said. "Work to start in 2019, work to complete in 2024. The contractor currently working on the project came in and bid and took a year off of that allotted time and so we are looking at right now that the contractor is on track to meet or beat their bid completion date."

Smith says the contractor has spent 85 percent of contract dollars in 68 percent of the contract time. He explains that the data certainly signifies good progress but there is still work to be done, which can cause closures and delays.

"As crews make their way throughout the corridor, they're reconstructing overpasses at each intersection and so that's where those closures come into play," Smith added.

He also says the pandemic has had minimal effects on the project unlike other construction around the country.

The word of the project being on a good track and possibly even ahead of schedule brings reassurance for businesses that have felt the long-time affects.

Scott Spain-Smith is the director of operations for Heritage Creamery, which has been dealing with a lot of road blocks since April 2019.

"People get on one side of the interstate and then they just want to stay there, they don't want to come back and forth," he explained.

Each day, construction changes around the ice cream shop, closing down roads and forcing people to travel longer to get to them.

Spain-Smith says the construction, as well as the pandemic, has forced their business plan to get creative.

"We've opened another shop out in Woodway actually, so we've got another shop where you don't have to cross over 35 to get to, but then we do more deliveries now and we really just try to be available," he explained.

For local businesses like Heritage Creamery, the light is at the end of the tunnel and Spain-Smith says the future is promising for his business and Waco.

"In the day to day it feels like they're not making a lot of progress, but when I think back to what it looked like a week ago, or a month ago, they really are moving pretty quickly on this project," he said.

Spain-Smith tells 6 News he thinks business will pick up even more once the construction clears.

TxDOT says they're on track to complete the project in early 2023.