One of the busiest sections of one of the busiest interstates in the southwest is in need of widening and upgrading, say transportation experts.
Interstate 10, as it pushes southward into El Paso before looping around the belly of the city and heading to the southeast, handles upwards of more than 100,000 vehicles a day.
Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation estimate that, given current population trends in metro El Paso, the 55-mile segment of highway will easily see more than 300,000 vehicles daily two decades from now.
For that reason, and because drivers have already been complaining about congestion issues, the state transportation department has been seeking public input on a plan called the I-10 Reimagine Corridor.
Sweeping and visionary in its scope, the plan notes that every single one of the dozens and dozens of I-10 bridges in metro El Paso will eventually have to be rebuilt.
DOT officials also say that highway standards now call for such bridges to have an 18-foot minimum clearance. All of the current interstate El Paso bridge clearances are no more than 16 feet.
It has also been suggested that what is now a web of I-10 access ramps between the Texas and New Mexico border and the town of Tornillo could be reduced and made less confusing.
The Reimagine Corridor proposal additionally proposes the $300 million building of a deck over the interstate connecting uptown and downtown El Paso. That deck could also be used as a park.
Not surprisingly, public response so far exploring the major challenges facing the metro El Paso I-10 have singled out traffic congestion and connectivity.
Once all of the public comments have been received and evaluated, the Texas DOT will ascertain how much funding is available for what could be a nearly $6 billion widening and upgrading project.
It has been reported that if the funding for the project is secured, work on the corridor could begin as early as 2023.
By Garry Boulard
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