Traffic lights flash as motorists drive through the Brinker Road underpass Tuesday at Interstate 35E in Denton. The intersection is part of the I-35E widening project that is expected to be completed by the end of next month, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Signal lights began flashing at the Brinker underpass Tuesday, which means the crucial bypass under Interstate 35E opened just in time for Thanksgiving motorists.

According to Emily McCann, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation, the signals could switch to regular operations as soon as Wednesday.

During the test phase, “they should flash ‘caution yellow’ on the frontage roads and ‘stop red’ on the Brinker Road cross street,” McCann said in an email.

Motorists on the frontage road should treat the flashing yellow as a signal to approach the intersection with caution. Motorists on Brinker should stop and check to see that the intersection is clear before proceeding.

Should any problems emerge during the test phase, the transition to regular signals will have to wait until after the holidays, McCann added.

The widening of the last 1.7 miles of Interstate 35E — from Loop 288 to Mayhill Road — included the new underpass at Brinker Road. The project came separately from the $1.4 billion in improvements to I-35E that were finished in 2017. City and county officials made a deal with Buc-ee’s after it became clear improvements to the South Loop 288 interchange would otherwise be years away.

In exchange for about $8 million in incentives to build in Denton, Buc-ee’s advanced about $2 million for the improvements. The $26.6 million project includes improvements to the northbound and southbound frontage road, including where Buc-ee’s was built at the new Brinker overpass.

“Buc-ee’s is very excited that the underpass will be open and available to customers in time for the busy travel season,” said Jeff Nadalo, general counsel for Buc-ee’s. “We anticipate that the easier access to the location will greatly enhance customers ability to access the store.”

According to the most recent report to city officials, TxDOT expects the entire widening project to be completed in December, about one year behind schedule.

Staff writer Jenna Duncan contributed to this report.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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