Four construction projects cause bumper-to-bumper back-up in El Paso

TxDOT project (CREDIT: KFOX14/CBS4)

Four different construction projects, including the Go 10 project, the Border West Expressway, US 85 and the El Paso Streetcar are all happening at the same time. This has created major congestion in West El Paso and downtown.

Bob Beilek, district engineer for TXDOT, said the three highway projects have to happen at the same time because they will all connect near Sunland Park. Having them done at the same time is key to making the connections between the different roadways. Beilek said building them separately would be even more difficult for drivers.

"We have to build some sort of temporary facility. I'm not even sure that they're constructible," said Beilek. "So you're talking about $20-$50 million additional expenses and you're talking about an area where it would have to be built, then torn down and rebuilt."

Beliek also said building them separately would also take seven and a half to eight years of inconvenience rather than three and a half to four.

The Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) was awarded funding in 2013 by TXDOT to build El Paso street cars. Raymond Telles with CRRMA said they had to move quickly on the street car project or they could lose the funding. This made it crucial that the project was completed within the next few years.

Not having a lot of alternatives is what makes navigating through both of these areas so difficult. Beilek said one thing they're doing to ease congestion is limiting the closures to one lane on Interstate 10 in both directions and doing most of the work at night.

"We haven't reduced the capacity on I-10 in any meaningful way during peak hours," said Beilek.

TxDOT is also rebuilding Paisano and connecting it to Doniphan and McNutt so it can be an alternate route during the rest of the construction.

"The main reason it's closed is because we have to build a new Paisano, and we're building it on top of the old Paisano, so there's no way to keep one open," Beilek said.

Marina Monsisvais, who is part of the communication team for the Street Car project, said informing surrounding businesses and patrons of the upcoming closures is the best way to help them navigate through the congestion.

Raymond Telles, executive director for CRRMA, said they have paused construction at different points to accommodate major event like graduations, football games and Chihuahua baseball events. The Street Car project is expected to be finish in late 2018, and all other construction will be done by April 2019 or earlier.

Mesa Street (June 20 - June 23)
Right lane on North Mesa Street (SH 20), in the direction headed toward Doniphan Drive, will be closed between Bartlett Drive (near the Valero Corner Store) and Osborne Drive (near Taco Cabana) for four continuous days starting at 6 a.m. on Monday and re-opening at 4 p.m. on Thursday. Crews will be working on a waterline and potholing for utilities.

Interstate 10 East/ West (June 20 - June 21)
I-10 will be reduced to one lane in both directions between Sunland Park Drive (Exit 13) and the Buena Vista Bridge (aka the Bridge to Nowhere) for two nights between 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Crews will be performing structural bridge work.

The inside lane on I-10 in both directions will be closed between the Executive Center Overpass and the Asarco Bridge for two days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Crews will be replacing the damaged rail in the median of I-10.

Mesa Exit Ramp (Exit 11) and South Desert Boulevard frontage road (June 21 - June 22)
The eastbound Mesa Exit Ramp (Exit 11) and South Desert Boulevard frontage road, from Thorn Avenue to North Mesa Street, will be closed starting at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and will remain closed until 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Crews will be performing structural bridge work.

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