Back in the 80s when I was a student at Trinity, I remember thinking how quaint (and more than occasionally frustrating) it was that there was no direct interchange between US 281 and Loop 410. I'm pleased and slightly amazed to read that after all these years, that's finally being corrected.
Nearly half a century ago, a feverish battle began to decide the route of the North Expressway, the part of U.S. 281 north of downtown that's now called McAllister Freeway.
The feud lasted from 1960 to 1974, and mostly pitted businessmen against environmentalists over whether the road could slice through parklands. The skirmishes spawned two referendums, several lawsuits, a three-year halt in construction and a new federal law.
Buildings sprouted on land needed for the highway and pushed the cost for a Loop 410 interchange beyond reach for the next three decades.
"That's amazing," said Roger Conrad, 50. "I've driven all over the country and I've never seen anything like that."
In 2005, the Texas Department of Transportation used bond funds to squeeze what would have been a 10-year project to 31/2 years to build a four-level interchange. Work is now 67 percent complete, and TxDOT opened the first ramp at 3 p.m. Monday.
The ramp, from southbound 281 to westbound 410, stretches almost a mile, rising to rooftops of the surrounding skyline. The lane's chalk-white concrete glares in the sun before dumping drivers just under the McCullough Avenue bridge.
The next ramp, eastbound 410 to southbound 281, is expected to open by August, officials said. The north to east and west to north ramps should open by January, and the rest in late 2008.