Thursday, July 14, 2016

Access to Bridge of the Americas from Paisano May be Removed

By Armando Landin

Commuters who use Paisano Drive to get to the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry may have to find a new route in the coming years. New construction plans show that ramps to the bridge could be removed as part of the I-10 Connect project.

This rendering shows proposed changes to Paisano Drive that would limit or remove access to the Bridge of the Americas in Central El Paso. (Texas Department of Transportation)

That's according to a Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) newsletter which shows major changes to the Paisano Drive/Bridge traffic interchange. 

According to the proposal, only one ramp will remain from the multiple ramps that connect the Bridge of the Americas to Paisano Drive, and to traffic to and from US-54 and Interstate 10.

Renderings of the project show that the ramp leading to the Port of Entry from Paisano will be completely removed, while a ramp from the bridge to Paisano will remain. 

The Paisano overpass, currently the third level of the interchange, will be lowered since the "gateway" intersections will no longer be needed at the middle level. The lower level will still take traffic to and from the freeways.

In addition, the southbound Paisano exit will also be removed, which ushers traffic from the Spaghetti Bowl to the Port of Entry. This is considered the final exit before heading into Mexico and is often used by drivers who mistakenly take the Juarez exit off of I-10.

Red dotted lines in this overhead view show the ramps that will be possibly eliminated that currently connect Paisano Drive to the Bridge of the Americas, as part of the I-10 Connect project. Yellow lines show ramps and roads that will be realigned or repurposed. Paisano runs east and west in this image.

Removing ramps will allow more lanes for the expected congestion of traffic going into Mexico.

The short freeway portion from US-54 to the bridge is called Interstate 110 and labeled as such on the rendering.

The aim of the changes is most likely to bring relief to surrounding neighborhoods by eliminating the lines of passenger vehicles and commercial trucks waiting to get into Mexico that would often spill onto Paisano Drive, affecting residential neighborhoods nearby.

However, it is unclear how Juarez-bound traffic from westbound Loop 375 will access the Port of Entry if these changes are implemented.

TXDOT officials are still holding community meetings to finalize the I-10 Connect project which won't break ground for a few years.