According to the Texas Department of Transportation, The Marsha Sharp Freeway project is moving along right on schedule. Construction should begin in late February or early March.
It's already a major transportation artery cutting right through the heart of Lubbock, and figuring out how to turn a highway into a freeway hasn't exactly been smooth sailing. "In any highway project you're going to have to make a change here and there. What you hope is that it isn't a big change," says Penny Mason with TXDOT.
The Marsha Sharp Freeway has already undergone several changes, and it hasn't even been built yet. Changes so far include improving traffic flow, making it safer by adding pedestrian crossovers and improving local access. "Instead of moving traffic from freeway to freeway we wanted to make sure travelers had access to businesses and residences along the way," says Mason of the improved local access design.
On Friday TXDOT announced that the Federal Highway Administration has approved the Marsha Sharp Freeway as environmentally friendly. That's the last major hurdle for the project, which now paves the way for construction to begin. "Which means we're going to be starting construction in late February or early March," says Mason.
So, in less than four months, freeway construction will begin at West Loop 289 and the Brownfield Highway. About 11 years later, construction will end at I-27 and 4th street. When finished, the freeway will extend from 4th Street all the way through the West Loop. Although the completion date is way down the road, TXDOT is ready to put the petal to the metal and get the project on its way.
TXDOT is more than 95% complete on -right of way- acquisitions. You might notice work going on right now along the freeway. TXDOT says crews are currently relocating utilities and demolishing buildings.