The Texas Department of Transportation has made an official recommendation for the future of the oft-bemoaned U.S. Highway 380: The existing road should be converted to a limited-access freeway, rather than going with one of several options for a different alignment.
TxDOT has been examining the future of U.S. 380 in Denton County through its feasibility study. The project began in 2018 and covers area as far west as Interstate 35 and as far east as Collin County. About a year ago, it yielded five potential alignment options to change up the travel route, most of which would use stretches of the existing road and the Dallas North Tollway.
But for the most recent public input period, which started at the end of November and runs through Dec. 17, TxDOT is recommending the road stick with its current alignment. That decision is based on several metrics, especially focusing on future congestion. Based on projected 2045 traffic demand, the agency found that the recommended changes would only increase congestion by an estimated 12% from the present-day road. The next-best options were tied at 115%.
To address that congestion, TxDOT will be upgrading the studied stretch of highway to a freeway. The new, limited-access freeway would have six to eight main lanes and four to six frontage road lanes, with a width of 350 to 400 feet.
TxDOT spokesperson Emily McCann said the agency used past meetings to gauge what residents are most concerned about. That boiled down to safety, congestion and environmental impacts. Additionally, the existing alignment garnered the most support from the public. She said the study won’t be completed until next year, and that a construction timeline is still well over a decade away.
“The project will be broken up into multiple smaller projects,” McCann said. “It’s in the very beginning stages. We’re just finishing the first real part of a longer-term project.”
In the meantime, TxDOT will be starting a widening project on the highway early next year, with several overpasses and improvements to sidewalks and lighting. That project is expected to be completed in 2025, but won’t come close to addressing the 2045 congestion projections.
The agency’s virtual presentation on the study is available online until Dec. 17, but TxDOT also held two in-person open houses last week in Prosper and in Denton, where residents could ask questions and learn more about the future options.
Doris Britt, an attendee who moved decades ago to the stretch of North Trinity Road north of U.S. 380, joined most all of the attendees in lamenting the current state of the road. But she said the new freeway proposal would put the road right up against her property.
“You could hear the birds singing,” Britt said of the old highway. “Now, you can’t even leave the windows open. … As noisy as it is, if they move it closer to our house, our quality of life is already gone. It’s not going to get any better.”
Rita Clissold, a resident of the Paloma Creek community north of the highway, also had concerns about noise getting even worse. But she also said she’s worried about the safety implications, with several schools nearby and many students already crossing the highway to get there. She said she’s skeptical the project will end up helping with safety or congestion.
“By the time they get this built, it will be archaic,” she said. “I don’t have any answers.”
Residents still have time to leave their input through a variety of options online.