One of the things that attracted many of us to Flower Mound is the easy access to Lake Grapevine and the activities and trails surrounding the lake. Before our children were born, Karen and I would spend several days a week waterskiing on the lake. While the lake offers many opportunities, it also represents challenges with one of the greatest being transportation.
As a resident since 1995, the current congestion is as difficult as I can remember. Today in Flower Mound we have approximately 69,000 residents. In 2010 it was just shy of 65,000 and in 2005 there were roughly 64,000 residents. The population growth over the last ten years in children, adults and seniors alike has not been statistically significant enough to cause the extent of the current delays. In the last year Flower Mound has issued fewer housing starts than Little Elm. The answer lies in road improvements.
History of the current road improvements:
There are currently three significant projects in impacting mobility in Flower Mound. The first is FM 1171. Originally initiated in 1999 when $4.5 million was approved to purchase right of way, the final phase was funded in 2011-2012 ($46 million) to extend six lanes from Shiloh to I-35W, to be completed in two phases.
SH 121 / FM 2499
The current road construction for SH 121 & FM 2499 has been on the books for over a decade (actually much longer) as part of the overall DFW Connector Project. The problem has always been funding. In 2012, with the help of many people, we were able to secure funding for this section of the connector. The cost is approximately $160 million.
While not technically in Flower Mound, its impact greatly changes the dynamics of our overall transportation. The I-35E improvements have been planned since 1998, and the $500 million in funding was approved in the previous decade and was environmentally cleared in 2011-2012, initiating the project.
The future of these projects:
The first area of this project to be addressed will be at US Hwy. 377 and FM 1171 later this year. The final completion date is scheduled for spring 2017.
SH 121 / FM 2499
While it would be great to say this will all be cleared up in the next couple of months, the reality is there will not be much relief until 2017. As the project progresses, the lanes will be alternated to allow for work to be done on the overpass and bridgework. The end result will allow commuters to bypass several lights and there will more lanes to carry traffic.
From southern Denton County to the George Bush exit, I-35E will be under construction until the middle of 2017.
Several years ago, commuters traveling to Southlake were faced with tremendous difficulties during the construction of the DFW Connector. With its completion, SH 114 has become much easier to traverse, even at rush hour. The same will occur with our town. In the meantime it is very difficult situation, one that I live each day. Besides 2499, I’ve tried Freeport, I-35E – which is mess until you get past Vista Ridge Mall – and MacArthur. Nothing seems to be better than the other.
We are fortunate in one sense that the funding for these projects became available. The resources for road projects compared to requests are severely imbalanced. If one was to ask, why are these projects all occurring at once? It is because our county leadership was able to secure funding. When funding is available you have to move forward or be passed over for years. In the meantime, perhaps the best solution may be to adjust our schedules, leave a bit earlier in the morning and be thankful when it is all completed.