Construction is scheduled to begin early next year and be completed in 2028 on the $700-million Interstate I-35 Northeast Expansion South Project in San Antonio. I-35 NEX is aimed at improving one of Texas' most congested state highway corridors, by cutting current travel times in half for 140,000 daily commuters. 

Nearly one-fourth of the $3-billion Interstate-35 budget is earmarked for NEX South. Fluor Corp. was selected in July as design, construction and capital maintenance contractor for the Texas Dept. of Transportation (TxDOT) work. 

Fluor's design-build-maintain contract calls for design and construction of approximately four miles of elevated, with corresponding interchanges and transitions at each end. The project also includes a five-year capital maintenance term, with options for two additional five-year term extensions.

The I-35 NEX South project is one of five phases of the I-35 NEX program, which includes more elevated lanes between the existing frontage road and the main lanes. Once the full NEX program is complete, “travel times are expected to be reduced by over 40%,” says Laura Lopez, a TxDOT spokeswoman.

“The project is one piece of the puzzle that will enhance traffic operations on the Northeast side of San Antonio," adds Lopez. "The elevated lanes will alleviate the existing main lanes by removing the regional traffic from the local traffic.”

A main challenge of this project is the amount of traffic and congestion currently present, forcing the contractor “to work in tight work areas during both day and night,” Lopez says.

“This is one of the reasons that the design-build delivery method was selected for this project,” she adds. “It would allow the contractor to develop and innovate in the way that they approach the design and construction.”

"The I-35 NEX South Project is a crucial step in our ongoing efforts to enhance the state's transportation infrastructure and to further support the demands of population growth and business expansion in one of America's most rapidly developing regions," says Shawn West, president of Fluor’s Infrastructure business.

Lone Star Constructors, a joint venture between Fluor and Austin Bridge & Road, is currently delivering an I-35 reconstruction and widening project in Dallas.