Monday, June 6, 2016

See I-10 Connect Options in Video Visualization

By Armando Landin   

The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) is highlighting the four "alternatives" to fixing missing connections between Interstate 10 and Loop 375 in Central El Paso, and residents can see the options the State is considering in a video visualization.

The proposed I-10 Connect project in El Paso will add direct connections between Interstate 10 and Loop 375 in and around the Spaghetti Bowl. Seen here is Alternative 1. (TXDOT)

Transportation officials want to create direct connections from Interstate 10 at the Spaghetti Bowl to Loop 375 (Border Highway) eastbound and vice versa.

Today, anyone driving on I-10 who wants to get to the Border Highway must use surface streets to do so, often by using the Paisano exit ramp off of the Juarez port of entry direct connector. Additionally, drivers traveling east on Loop 375 cannot get to I-10 eastbound directly.

Alternative 9 of the I-10 Connect project in Central El Paso creates new ramps off of existing director connectors. (TXDOT)

Officials hope to create direct connections between I-10 and Loop 375 so that drivers can avoid having to exit and use local streets.

The video visualization posted by TXDOT does not include descriptions of each alternative but offers bird's eye views of what the completed project may look like under each option.

Alternative 1 would create direct connectors off of the southbound Juarez ramp, one connector from westbound I-10 to westbound Loop 375, and another for eastbound I-10 to eastbound Loop 375. Another ramp would be built to connect eastbound Loop 375 to eastbound I-10.

Alternative 5 would eliminate the westbound Juarez direct connector and shift the ramp to connect to southbound US-54 instead. A ramp from eastbound I-10 would merge with US-54 as well, and Juarez-bound traffic would then exit US-54 at the current Juarez exit. This alternative also includes the direct connector from eastbound Loop 375 to eastbound I-10.

This schematic shows structure and pavement changes as part of I-10 Connect's Alternative 9 in Central El Paso. (TXDOT)

Alternative 9 removes the existing Juarez off ramp from southbound US-54 and moves it north, shooting off of the existing southbound US-54 to westbound I-10 direct connector. Connectors would be built off of the current Juarez direct connectors to merge with southbound US-54. The direct connector from eastbound Loop 375 to eastbound I-10 is also part of this alternative.

Finally, Alternative 11 also removes the existing Juarez off ramp from southbound US-54 and moves it north, but creates a new direct connector specifically for Juarez-bound traffic. An exit ramp would be built after the I-10 to Juarez direct connectors merge, allow commuters to merge onto southbound US-54 and eventually Loop 375.

This rendering shows new flyover ramps that would take drivers from Interstate 10 to Loop 375 as part of the I-10 Connect project in Central El Paso. (TXDOT)

The challenge to the State for any of the options is the infamous traffic backup caused by drivers trying to get to Juarez. During peak hours, it's not unusual to see personal vehicles and eighteen-wheelers sitting idle atop the highest Spaghetti Bowl ramps. This may help determine exactly where ramps and direct connectors are placed.

TXDOT held its first public meeting on January 21, 2016 to present the final four alternatives and indicated a second meeting would be held in Spring 2016. No construction timeline has been set.