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Interstate 35E / 35W Texas

 

Routing

Interstate 35 splits into Interstates 35E and 35W to serve Dallas (east) and Fort Worth (west). The two routes diverge north of Hillsboro, through rural reaches of Hall County and reconvene on the west side of Denton.

Interstate 35W angles northwest to Grandview and Alvarado through rural areas of Johnson County before crossing the Tarrant County line at Burleson. A business route serves Alvarado, near the junction with U.S. 67. It is signed as Business Loop I-35 versus 35W. IH 35W (South Freeway) passes west of Fort Worth Spinks Airport (FWS) through an area of retail in south Fort Worth. The freeway advances northward by a large industrial park through to Interstate 20 near the town of Edgecliff Village.

IH 35W bisects central Fort Worth through to Downtown, where it meets Interstate 30, U.S. 287 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Freeway) and Texas 121 (Airport Freeway). U.S. 287 combines with IH 35W north from there across the Trinity River West Fork through another industrial park area ahead of Interstate 820.

A wye interchange separates U.S. 287 from IH 35W beyond residential subdivisions along Basswood Boulevard. This split represents the northbound beginning of U.S. 81, which IH 35 and IH 35W replaced southward to Laredo. Passing by Fort Worth Alliance Airport (AFW), Interstate 35W (North Freeway) crosses the Denton County line en route to Northlake and Texas Motor Speedway. The remainder of the route west of Argyle and through south Denton is mostly rural through to the merge with IH 35E.

Interstate 35E extends the exit numbering system of I-35. The rural freeway ventures northward through Ellis County to the seat of Waxahachie before reaching the suburban cities of Red Oak and Glenn Heights by the Dallas County line.

Bee lining northward between Desoto and Lancaster, IH 35E enters the Dallas city limits at the symmetrical stack with Interstate 20. Named the R.L. Thornton Freeway, IH 35E advances through south Dallas to merge with U.S. 67 (Martin D. Love Freeway) at Exit 423. The freeway arcs northeast by the Dallas Zoo to cross the Trinity River and its levee system into the Mixmaster Interchange with Interstate 30.

IH 30 joins Downtown Dallas with Downtown Fort Worth while IH 35E lines the west side of the central business district along the Stemmons Freeway. The Dallas North Tollway branches northward from the freeway as IH 35E turns more westerly along commercialized frontage to split with Texas 183 (John W. Carpenter Freeway).

Interstate 35E (Stemmons Freeway) traverses the industrial north side of Dallas through to Interstate 635 (Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway) and the city of Farmers Branch. Warehouses and distribution centers continue to spread west and east of the Stemmons Freeway through Carrollton and the Denton County line.

Unlike IH 35W, IH 35E travels through built up areas for the remainder of course north through Denton County. The freeway passes through Lewisville and a commercial area anchored by Vista Ridge Mall before passing west of Downtown at Exit 452. Suburbia remains omnipresent along the route to Lewisville Lake, Hickory Creek, Lake Dallas and Corinth. IH 35E reaches the Denton city limits at Exit 461 and recombines with IH 35W at Exit 467.

History

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) mandated that all suffixed Interstate highways be renumbered to eliminate confusion. Similar to the Interstate 35E and 35W branch split in Minnesota, the reason IH 35E and 35W remain in Texas is that neither Dallas nor Fort Worth wanted to relinquish the routing of Interstate 35.

Interstate 35W

The South Freeway was one of the first Fort Worth area freeways built. The initial stretch was constructed starting on April 7, 1947 between Seminary Drive (Exit 46A) and Morningside Drive (north of Exit 48A). It was opened on September 14, 1949 as a new alignment for U.S. 81. Subsequent sections of the South Freeway opened north from Morningside Drive and Rosedale Street on November 30, 1951, from Rosedale Street to IH 30 in March 1955 and between Seminary Drive and Altamesa Boulevard that same year.1

Construction on the North Freeway commenced north of IH 30 in 1958, but was delayed one year due to litigation. The stretch between IH 30 and Yucca Avenue north of the Trinity River West Fork opened in May 1962. Extensions followed northward from Yucca Avenue to 28th Street in 1963, from 28th Street to IH 820 in 1966 and from IH 820 to Texas 114 in Denton County in August 1967. The route was completed north to Denton on July 3, 1969, with the interchange at IH 35E finished on April 15, 1970.1

Interstate 35E

The R.L Thornton Freeway was initially approved by the Dallas City County in September 1953 from Downtown to Oak Cliff (Marsalis Avenue). Construction on the new alignment for U.S. 67 kicked off in 1955, with it opening as Interstate 35E on May 11, 1959. This included building the Mixmaster Interchange with IH 30.

Further work built Interstate 35E (R.L. Thornton Freeway) in stages from Oak Cliff south to Red Oak as follows: between Marsalis Avenue and Clarendon Drive on January 31, 1962, from Clarendon Drive south to Keist Boulevard on July 6, 1965 and from Keist Boulevard to Laureland Road (Exit 420) on September 21, 1965. These sections of I-35E tied into 1964 opened freeway southward to Bear Creek Road at Desoto and Lancaster. Portions further south in Ellis County were open prior in 1961.2

Origins of the Stemmons Freeway date back to February 1952, when the Dallas County Commissioner Court directed the County Engineer to move forward on an alignment selection for an expressway called Highline-Riverview Road. Further north efforts were underway to expand U.S. 77 (Harry Hines Boulevard) to a four-lane roadway between Northwest Highway and the Denton County line. This stretch would tie into the April 1955 completed freeway between Lewisville and Lake County.2

The alignment of IH 35E would shift west from Harry Hines Boulevard in an effort to reduce costs. This took the future expressway away from built up areas to vacant land next to the Trinity River. TxDOT approved this alignment change in October 1954 and work was well underway by January 1958 on the Stemmons Freeway. The first six miles, between Oak Lawn Avenue near Downtown and the wye interchange (Exit 435) at Hines Park, opened to traffic in December 5, 1959.2

Additional sections of the Stemmons Freeway opened south from Oak Lawn Avenue to the R.L. Thornton Freeway in 1959, from Hines Park north to Northwest Highway in January 1961 and from Northwest Highway to IH 635 on August 15, 1963. Portions of Interstate 35E beyond IH 635 were completed as follows: between IH 635 and the Denton County line on December 14, 1957, through Lewisville as a replacement for U.S. 77 on April 22, 1955, and as an upgrade to freeway standards of the 1953-built four-lane U.S. 77 through Corinth in 1961. The northernmost section at Denton, including IH 35 north of IH 35W, was finished on June 23, 1959.2

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - Interstate 35 - near Hillsboro, Texas
Perspective from Interstate 35 north
Situated well to the south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Interstate 35 splits into its East/West counterparts. This photo looks at Exit 370, where U.S. 77 splits away from Interstate 35 after a 36 mile marriage that began in Waco. The mainline transitions to Interstate 35E and thus retains the Interstate 35 exit numbering scheme. Interstate 35W departs from the left within one-half mile. Photo taken by Marc Welby (08/00).
Perspective from Interstate 35E south
Two miles south of the Interstate 35E/W merge, is this sign on Interstate 35E southbound retaining button copy. A return ramp to Interstate 35W/Fort Worth is afforded to southbound motorists. The landscape however, is relatively rural, stark in contrast to the northern terminus of the split Interstates at the growing suburb of Denton. Photo taken by Justin Cozart (08/02).
The exit for Interstate 35W at the south end is unnumbered (unlike at the northern terminus - Exit 467). Traffic continuing south transitions back into Interstate 35, picking up U.S. 77 after the Exit 370 interchange just outside of Hillsboro. 32 miles separate this merge from the city of Waco. Photo taken by Justin Cozart (08/02).
Northern Terminus - Interstate 35 - Denton, Texas
Perspective from Interstate 35 south
This is the first signage for the pending split between Interstate 35E and Interstate 35W. Interstate 35 retains four lanes at this point, with the Texas standard frontage road system on both sides of the freeway. The Denton city limits encompass over ten miles of the route. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (12/28/05).
Formerly, this two-mile advance sign was the first signage prior to the Interstate 35 split. It was a button copy sign. Vidcap taken 01/96.
Prior to the Farm to Market Road 1515 interchange, this mileage sign provides the distance to the Interstate 35 split near Denton. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (12/28/05).
The last southbound exit of Interstate 35 is at Exit 468/Texas Farm to Market Road 1515 serving Denton Municipal Airport. Unlike at the southern split of Interstate 35E/W, Interstate 35W departs from the right and receives an Exit number. Photo taken 01/96.
A second view of Exit 468, one-half mile north of the split. It appears that the signs Pictured in the above photograph are still in place on Interstate 35 southbound. Most other mainline signage in the Dallas area saw replacement between 1996 and 2000. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/16/02).
Interstate 35 disappears into the troposphere while Interstate 35E and 35W take shape at Exit 467. The flyover in the background allows northbound Interstate 35E traffic to return southward via Interstate 35W. Interstate 35E travelers will reach the city limits of Dallas in 27 miles and Interstate 35W travelers will see Fort Worth in 25 miles. Vidcap taken 01/96.
Replacements of the button copy signs Pictured above. Note that the Exit 467 guide sign is no longer in place, yet the lighting fixtures for all however still are. The right-hand panel is missing its Interstate 35W shield. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (12/28/05).

Sources:

  • Slotboom, Oscar (2014). Fort Worth Freeways. Dallas-Fort Worth Freeways, Texas-Sized Ambition, Retrieved from http://www.dfwfreeways.com.
  • Slotboom, Oscar (2014). Dallas Freeways. Dallas-Fort Worth Freeways, Texas-Sized Ambition, Retrieved from http://www.dfwfreeways.com.

Page Updated July 2, 2015.

Mileage

Interstate 35E
State Texas
Mileage 96.76
Cities Lancaster, Dallas, Carrollton, Lewisville
Junctions Interstate 20, Interstate 30, Interstate 635
Interstate 35W
State Texas
Mileage 85.20
Cities Burleson, Fort Worth
Junctions Interstate 20, Interstate 30, Interstate 820
Source: December 31, 2014 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
The North-South Expressway, then U.S. 81, appeared in this 1954 General Drafting Map as Fort Worth's first freeway.
U.S. 81 was truncated northward from Laredo to IH 35W north of Fort Worth in 1993.
The Stemmons Freeway ran northwest from Downtown Dallas to Texas 114 by 1963. The R.L. Thompson Freeway extended IH 35E south to Clarendon Drive near the Dallas Zoo as well. The gap between Northwest Highway and IH 635 was completed in August 1963.
Interstate 35E replaced U.S. 77 throughout Dallas and the route is generally unsigned along the freeway. U.S. 67 is equally not posted along IH 35E and IH 30 leading east. U.S. 80 was truncated west of Dallas by 1993.
Dallas-Fort Worth Area - 1967 Texas Official Highway Map
Interstate 35W between north Fort Worth and denton was the last portion of the IH 35 branch split to open through north Texas.
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