Part of the Dallas beltway system, Interstate 635 (Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway) wraps around the northern and eastern fringes of the city. Known simply as the LBJ Freeway, IH 635 begins at Interstate 20 and leads in a counterclockwise direction to SH 121 near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). The western nine miles (beyond IH 35E) mostly functions as a spur to the airport, even though it still carries the first-digit even designation.
Right of way acquisition for what would be Interstate 635 commenced in 1958, with the freeway running across mostly empty farm land or prairie. Construction started in March 1964 on a short segment between IH 35E and Marsh Lane by Farmers Branch. This section was complete on March 23, 1967. It was quickly followed with opening of IH 635 east from Marsh Lane to U.S. 75 (Central Expressway) in August of 1967.3
Work continued to build IH 635 south and east to IH 30 in November 1968, with work complete south to IH 20 by August 1970. The portion running west from Balch Springs to IH 35E in south Dallas was redesignated as IH 20 in 1971. It was completed in October 1973.3
The northwestern segment of Interstate 635 was constructed in 1981-82. This extension was conditionally approved by AASHTO on November 16, 1974.
A $2.6 billion project rebuilt 10.7 miles of the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway through to September 10, 2015.7 The massive project kicked off with an allocation of $50 million from the Regional Transportation Council on September 11, 2003.1 Initial plans called for twin bored tunnels below the main travel lanes of the LBJ Freeway. These were cost prohibitive and eventually withdrawn from the plan. Replacing them in November 2006 project revision were trenched roadways (later named the LBJ Canyon) utilizing space under a portion of the general travel lanes. The cost savings allowed the project to move forward, with construction commencing in 2011.3
The LBJ Express project upgraded IH 635 between the Central Expressway (US 75) and Interstate 35E, with the addition of two to three tolled lanes per direction. Formally named the LBJ Express or LBJ TEXpress, the new lanes utilize variable tolling where rates increase during periods of traffic congestion along the main lanes of IH 635.
Future road work will extend the LBJ Express lanes eastward along the 1970s-built IH 635 through Northeast Dallas, Garland and Mesquite through to U.S. 80. No time-table has been set for this phase of work and construction may endure 10 to 20 years.1
Entering the final 0.25 miles of Interstate 635 southbound. An end shield assembly is in place proclaiming the terminus. This shield installation is similar to the temporary end shield at the eastern terminus of Interstate 520 at Augusta, Georgia. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
The last mainline exit of Interstate 635 serves Seagoville road in the suburb of Balch Springs. Interstate 635 otherwise merges onto Interstate 20 westbound, with Exit 1C taking traffic back to Interstate 20 east to Terrell and Shreveport. The first Interstate 20 interchange encountered is that with the U.S. 175 freeway at Exits 479B/A. Top photo taken by Justin Cozart (12/02); Bottom photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Interstate 635 southbound transition to Interstate 20 west. To the right Exit 1C departs for Interstate 20 east. The highway leaves the metropolitan area en route to Terrell in 20 miles. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
As the U.S. 175/Interstate 20 stack interchange coming into view, Interstate 635 traffic sees the official end sign and associated zero milepost. Ramps depart for the C.F. Hawn Freeway (U.S. 175) in less that one fourth of a mile. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Perspective from Interstate 20 west
Westbound Interstate 20 upcoming exits sign featuring the first mentioning of the upcoming junction with Interstate 635, the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway. Still ahead are interchanges with Belt Line Road and Seagoville Road. These two interchanges serve the Balch Springs suburban community. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Continuing westward on Interstate 20, 1.25 miles east of the Interstate 635 southern terminus. The next interchange serves Seagoville Road. This surface street also intersects the last southbound interchange of Interstate 635 at Exit 1A. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
One mile overhead for Exit 480/Interstate 635 northbound. Hazardous cargo based transport is permitted on both Interstate 20 and 635 around the city of Dallas. The two freeways stay 12 to 14 miles out from the city center. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
A third centerline upcoming exits sign heralds the upcoming Interstate 635 junction. Beyond this interchange, the junctions with U.S. 175/Exit 479B/A and Saint Augustine Road/Exit 477 await Interstate 20 westbound motorists. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Interstate 635 northbound is allocated one lane via Interstate 20 west via Exit 480. The bypass of Dallas will intercept Interstate 30 eight miles to the north. Interstate 20 meanwhile stays to the south of the Dallas and Fort Worth central business districts. Additionally the Interstate continues the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway designation from Interstate 635 westward. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Interstate 20 westbound at the southern terminus of Interstate 635/Exit 480. Although no control city is displayed, Interstate 635 serves the eastern suburbs of Mesquite and Garland. The button copy signage displayed here has since been replaced. Vidcap taken 01/16/96.
Perspective from Interstate 20 east
Within the U.S. 175 stack interchange, Interstate 20 prepares to yield the northbound beginning of Interstate 635. Three lanes are allocated for the Dallas bypass as Interstate 635 travels north to Balch Springs, Mesquite, Garland and Richardson. Exit 479B meanwhile carries traffic to U.S. 175 southbound as the US route departs the metropolitan area en route to Kaufman, the Seat of the County by the same name. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Interstate 20 eastbound at the junction with Interstate 635, just north of U.S. 175. Originally Interstate 635 used no control cities when it was built in the late 1960s-early 1970s, but when the new Interstate 20 section was built and Interstate 635 was truncated, Mesquite was added to the Interstate 635 sign in button copy. In the last year or so, Garland must have had something to say about it since Texas DOT added this tacked-on reflective Mesquite / Garland control city assembly. Also, the Interstate 20 sign here is the first Dallas-area sign to include Tyler as a control city, even though Interstate 20 does not directly pass through Tyler. The Interstate 20 sign originally listed Shreveport but the change to the current control point occurred in the early to mid-1990s. Photo taken by John D. (05/01).
The same set of overheads Pictured in the above photograph, amended to display the Interstate 20 and 635 control cities correctly. Interesting to note that the Interstate 20/635 area overheads still retain their lighting fixtures. In other parts of the state, such as San Antonio and Houston, most lighting fixtures are removed with sign replacement projects. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Visible in the right side of the background in the above photograph, this Interstate 20/635 sign bridge is located over the connecting ramps from the nearby U.S. 175 stack interchange to Interstate 20 east/635 north. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (08/19/02).
Split of Interstate 635 north from Interstate 20 east. The northbound beginning of the Dallas bypass is not assigned an exit number in this direction. The next interchange of both freeways serves the nearby Seagoville Road. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Perspective from Interstate 635 north
Continuing onto Interstate 635 north from Interstate 20 eastbound. The first off-ramp of Interstate 635 appears quickly. Exit 1A departs for Seagoville Road in this photograph. Exit 1B for Elam Road is situated in one mile to the north. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Interstate 635 begins signage and milepost 0 just north of Interstate 20 at the Interstate 635 exit to Seagoville Road. The southeastern terminus is the only one of the two with begin-end signage. Photo taken by Justin Cozart (12/02).
A closer look at the begins signage reveals that the Interstate 635 shield is separate from the sign background. The diamond interchange for Seagoville Road (Exit 1A), is set on the northern fringes of the Interstate 20/635 junction. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (08/19/02).
Summertime contextual view of the Interstate 635 begin guide sign and zero milepost. The speed limit of the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway is posted at 60 MPH. The parent junction with Interstate 35 is a 27 mile drive to the northwest. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Northern Terminus - Texas 121 - Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport
Perspective from Interstate 635 west
Westbound Interstate 635 approaching Texas 121/Exit 36A-B, one and one-half miles. The upcoming exit for Royal Lane/Exit 35, serves the suburb of Coppell. Photo taken by John D. (05/01).
Last reassurance shield on westbound Interstate 635 approaching Texas 121 in front of the Grapevine Mills Mall sign. Photo taken by John D. (05/01).
Westbound Interstate 635 ends at the ramps to Southbound and Northbound Texas 121. The southbound signage until about 2001 only listed D/FW Airport as the control city originally; also TxDOT forgot to leave an exit tab (Exit 36A) when they updated the sign. The northbound sign listed Bethel Road with Texas 121, but that was changed when the short segment of Bethel between Texas 121 and Texas 26 was changed to Bass Pro Drive with the opening of the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World in Grapevine (next to the tall hotel building in the distance). Photo taken by John D. (05/01).
Perspective from Texas 121 north
Northbound Texas 121 at the first exit north of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. This is the first signage for the approaching Junction with Interstate 635, and the signs also preview a further exit to Flower Mound. This is very first appearance in the area of North Dallas as a control city. The Eastbound Texas 114 control city of Downtown Dallas is unusual since Texas 114 only makes it to Texas Stadium (Texas 183). Photo taken by John D. (05/01).
Northbound Texas 121 approaching Interstate 635 eastbound. This signage is located between the north Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport entrance and the Interstate 635 exit, over Texas 114. Photo taken by John D. (05/01).
Last advance guide signage on northbound Texas 121 for Interstate 635 eastbound. Interstate 635 is designated the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway and travels through the north Dallas suburbs of Irving and Farmers Branch, including portions within the city limits of Dallas itself. Photo taken by John D. (05/01).
Interstate 635 begins its eastward journey from Texas 121 northbound at a pervasive interchange. Traffic continuing past Interstate 635 on Texas 121 will enter Grapevine and Coppell. The next exit for Texas Farm to Market Road 2499 loops around the Grapevine Recreational Area. Photo taken by John D. (05/01).
"1st step for LBJ project." The Dallas Morning News, September 12, 2003.