Residents and business owners of Rockwall and Dallas counties gathered at Royse City High School last night for a presentation by the Texas Department of Transportation on the department’s plans for sweeping improvements to Interstate 30, from Bass Pro Drive to west of FM 2642, in the next several years.

While the project will be a substantial undertaking across the board, the most significant changes will be widening of I-30 to eight lanes from Bass Pro Drive to State Highway 205, to six lanes from SH 205 to FM 2642, adding freestanding, six-lane frontage roads alongside the Lake Ray Hubbard bridge and totally overhauling the highway interchanges at Dalrock Road and Horizon Road.

According to Mike Garrison, a professional engineer with BGE, the firm contracted with TxDOT for the I-30 project, the improvements may be far-reaching, but they’re the best option to alleviate the frequent congestion in the corridor and to prepare the area for future growth, as well as further suburban sprawl east of Royse City.

Garrison also added that the eastbound outer frontage road across Lake Ray Hubbard is planned to include a 12-foot wide walking and cycling path, which along with a similar eight-foot path on the westbound side will give pedestrians an unprecedented safe route across the bridge.

The most impactful change for Rockwall residents is likely to be the reconstruction of the I-30 and Horizon Road interchange, including the addition of a new westbound on-ramp before Horizon Road, alleviating traffic congestion at the intersection. The westbound on-ramp just west of Horizon Road will still be available.

TxDOT will also be undertaking a complete overhaul of the Dalrock Road and I-30 interchange, to accommodate the new Bayside development and its major in-road, Bayside Drive.

After completion, Dalrock Road will no longer directly access eastbound I-30, instead diverting traffic to a newly constructed Bayside Drive overpass with access to the eastbound I-30 frontage road.

As discussed in a previous Rockwall County Herald-Banner article, the project will require the state to claim small amounts of right-of-way in various locations, particularly around the Sabine Creek and Sabine Creek Tributary bridges, but none of the expanded rights-of-way will displace any homes or businesses.

Katelyn Kowalczyk, a representative for BGE, also noted that environmental impact studies, including impacts on Lake Ray Hubbard, traffic noise and floodplains, have shown no concerns for the project’s proposed changes.

TxDOT will finalize the environmental clearances with state and federal authorities this spring, finalize purchases of rights-of-way by June 2020, with phased construction set to commence in late 2022, which is notably one year later than earlier estimates of late 2021.

“The road is expected to open to traffic in approximately 2026,” Kowalczyk added in a final comment. The earliest phase begun, and presumably completed, will be the portion of I-30 from Bass Pro Drive to Dalrock Road and Bayside Drive.