There’s some freeways that are just unpleasant to drive. Not necessarily because of traffic, but because of a plethora of problems–lots of wear, incredibly narrow lanes, no shoulder, short on-ramps, etc. I-35E traveling through Denton is one of these incredibly unpleasant roads.
As a matter of fact, in terms of road quality, I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that the northern portion of I-35E is one of the worst freeways I’ve ever traveled on. And it’s not even because of traffic. Sure, the traffic’s bad too–but only because the road is so narrow that drivers are afraid to move at a decent speed.
Narrow lanes and the lack of a shoulder isn’t the only problem, though. To make things even better, there’s basically no median whatsoever, just a dividing wall. Furthermore, if you’re getting onto the freeway from an access road, it’s almost necessary to floor the gas pedal in order to speed up quickly enough to make it off of the minuscule on-ramp and onto the freeway safely.
Is there any solution in sight, though? Well, eventually–this year, construction is scheduled to start on the I-35E project, which will make improvements to the entire 28-mile corridor from I-635 to US 380 and add managed toll lanes with dynamic pricing to keep traffic moving at a constant 50 mph. Even though this isn’t the most ideal solution in my book, some sort of relief and reconstruction is desperately needed and should make driving through Denton (and Lewisville and Dallas, for that matter) a much more pleasant experience.
Still, there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in Denton before I start visiting there on a regular basis. Namely, something needs to be done about the southern portion of Loop 288. During the busiest times of the day, more often than not, traffic at the 288 exit from southbound I-35E is backed up well into the freeway, which is not okay. I’m not really sure what can be done about this, though. Sprawling retail is built up all along this portion of 288, and there’s not really any room for road expansion there, even though the traffic along that part of the road is always horrible. To make matters worse, the renovation of Golden Triangle Mall will presumably bring more traffic to the area and already-congested surrounding road network.