Interstate 35E Texas
Interstate 35 through the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area separates into east and west branches between rural Hill County and the northern suburbs at the city of Denton. IH 35W runs north through Ft. Worth and Tarrant County via Alvarado, Northlake and Argyle.
Interstate 35E extends the exit numbering system of I-35. The rural freeway runs 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 four level interchange with Interstate 20. Named the R.L. Thornton Freeway, IH 35E advances through south Dallas to combine 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 SH 183 (John W. Carpenter Freeway).
IH 35E (Stemmons Freeway) traverses the industrial north side of Dallas 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 to 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.
The tolled Express Lanes along the Interstate 35E (Stemmons Freeway) run 18 miles north from the systems interchange with IH 635 to Exit 458A with FM 2181 (Swisher Road) between the towns of Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek. The reversible roadway opened to traffic in May 2017. The toll lanes flow southbound in the mornings and on weekends and northbound in the evenings.1
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) mandated that all suffixed Interstate highways be renumbered to eliminate confusion. Similar to the I-35E/35W branch split in Minnesota, the reason IH 35E and IH 35W remain in Texas is that neither Dallas nor Fort Worth wanted to relinquish the routing of Interstate 35.
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 96.95 miles on I-35
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.
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 freeway completed in April 1955 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 in 1961 of the four lane highway built for U.S. 77 in 1953 through Corinth. The northernmost section at Denton, including IH 35 north of IH 35W, was finished on June 23, 1959.2
North End – Denton, Texas
North End Throwback
Button copy signs for the IH 35E/W separation from IH 35 southbound in January 1996.
South End – near Hillsboro, Texas
Construction underway in 2022 expands 7.9 miles of IH 35E from four to six lanes southwest from the Ellis County line to IH 35/35W. 05/10/22
- Interstate 35 TEXpress Lanes Project Fact Sheet. Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
- Slotboom, Oscar (2014). Dallas Freeways. Dallas-Fort Worth Freeways, Texas-Sized Ambition, Retrieved from http://www.dfwfreeways.com.
Page updated May 20, 2022.