Interstate 35W, Fort Worth
Created and last updated August 26, 2001
Also see: Fort Worth historic photos
IH-35W was one of Fort Worth's first freeways, with the south section completed in the early or mid 1950's. The south section has been reconstructed and expanded. The north section, completed in the early to late 1960's, in still in it's originally constructed configuration, except for a small segment north to IH-820.
IH-35W featured the first four-level stack in Texas at its interchange with today's IH-30 (then the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike). The stack was completed around March 1958. At the time it was called both the "Pretzel" and the "Mixmaster". The term "Mixmaster" is now used exclusively. An excerpt from an article in Texas Highways Magazine is quoted below. This stack was replaced by the new IH-35W/IH-30 interchange, which will be completed in late 2001 or early 2002. The original stack has been demolished. So, the four-level interchange at US 59 south (Southwest Freeway) and the West Loop (IH-610) in Houston is now the oldest 4-level stack in Texas, having been completed in 1962.
As for the future, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) lists IH-35W north from downtown to Denton and IH-35W south of IH-20 as "Improve Existing Facility." However, TxDOT's 2002 Unified Transportation Planning document, which lists projects for the next 10 years, does not include any project listings for IH-35W. So, any improvements to IH-35W are at least 5 years in the future, and probably more than 10 years in the future. However, the prairies north of Fort Worth are prime for urbanization, and if development proceeds quickly, improvements to IH-35W north will probably be accelerated.
| Early to mid 1950's
| US 81 (now IH-35W) is completed south of downtown Fort Worth.
| March 1958
| The four level interchange at the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike is completed.
| Road maps show IH-35W north complete from downtown Fort Worth to IH-820 north. The section from downtown to 183 was completed by 1963.
| A 1969 road map shows IH-35W complete north of IH-820 north.
| IH-35W reconstruction south of downtown to have 8 lanes is completed. The interchange at IH-35W and IH-20 was completed at about the same time.
| Major work on the new IH-30 interchange (the Mixmaster) gets underway
| The new IH-30 interchange (the Mixmaster) will be completed.
The Original "Pretzel"
The interchange at IH-35W and IH-30 was the first four-level stack in Texas. The following text is taken from a March 1958 article in Texas Highways Magazine: "The Pretzel
At the intersection of Interstate 20 (now Interstate 30) and Interstate 35W in Fort Worth is a structure humorously called the "pretzel," or "mixmaster," by Fort Worth citizens. One look at an aerial perspective shows how this interchange got these names.
Its fame, however, comes from another cause. This is the first four-level interchange to appear on Texas highways. On this interchange, four roadways, at four levels, though not vertically directly above each other, at one point are within a 40-foot radius.
Designed prior to the establishment of current interstate standards, this interchange was originally (1945-1947) planned as a cloverleaf with flattened loops in the two south quadrants. Right-of-way requirements were set up accordingly. Later traffic estimates in 1952 indicated the need for a direct-connection type of interchange which would handle more traffic than a cloverleaf with greater safety and convenience. The present interchange design came about as a result of the necessity for constructing the direct-connection interchange on the available right-of-way. This required the stacking of roadways, and comparatively steep grades and sharp curves on the ramps. Acquiring more right-of-way was restricted by the railroad tracks to the south and west, and a government housing project on the northwest.
Despite all complications, the interchange substantially meets Interstate standards. Through lanes have a design speed of 50 miles per hour, and ramps 30 miles per hour. Maximum grade on Interstate 20 is 1.4 percent. On Interstate 35W, through lanes have a maximum grade of 5 percent - this is for less than 100 feet. Ramps have a maximum grade of 7.5 percent.
Work on this highway interchange began April 27, 1956, and is scheduled for completion this month (March 1958). The contractor is Austin Bridge Company and Worth Contruction Company. Contract cost, not including engineering and contingencies is $1,220,000. At present, two ramp connections are open, tying the South Freeway (Interstate 35W) with the turnpike.
Now and Then: IH-35 just south of Berry Road
This undated photo from the 1950's shows US 81 at the railroad undercrossing just south of Berry Road.
Here is the same location in August 2001. I don't know when the freeway was reconstructed, but it now has 8 main lanes and the feeder roads are also grade-separated with the railroad tracks.
Robert Miller of Austin has contributed these 1988 photos of the reconstruction of IH-35W south. At the time of these photos, the reconstruction was nearly complete.
Photos start south of Fort Worth and proceed northward
A. Looking northward near the Tarrant County line, south of Fort Worth. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
B. Driver's view approaching IH-20. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 158k) C. Looking north over the IH-35W/IH-20 interchange. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 163k) D. A closer view of the IH-35W/IH-20 interchange. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
E. Driver's view going northbound at the Seminary exit. IH-35W has eight main lanes north of IH-20. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 115k) F. Driver's view just south of Berry Road. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 202k) G. Looking north from near Morningside. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 175k) H. Looking north from Allen Street. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 178k) J. Driver's view approaching the IH-30 stack. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
K. Proceeding through the IH-30 interchange. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 330k) L. Looking northwest over the IH-35W/IH-30 interchange. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 394k) M. A closer view of the IH-35W/IH-30 interchange. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
N. Driver's view in downtown Fort Worth. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
O. Driver's view approaching 121. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
P. Driver's view north of 121. North of downtown Fort Worth, IH-35 is still in its originally constructed 1960's configuration. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
Q. IH-35 is reduced to 4 lanes north of 183. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
R. Driver's view at the Meacham exit. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
S. Driver's view at IH-820 north. The interchange at 820 is a low-rise interchange on a very large right-of-way. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 128k) T. North of IH-820, IH-35W has been reconstructed. There is enough concrete available for 8 main lanes, but half the roadway is striped off and only 4 lanes are in use. In the long run, all the pavement will be used as adjacent sections are widened. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
U. Driver's view at the 281 exit. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
V. Driver's view approaching 170. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
W. Driver's view at 170 overpass. 170 will someday be a freeway, part of the outer Loop 9 around the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. For now, 170 serves as the southern gateway to the Alliance Airport zone. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
(high resolution 176k) X. Northbound drivers get a nice view of the runway at Alliance airport, a freight-only airport. Local officials are working to secure funding to extend the existing 9600 ft runway to 11000 feet, so even fully-loaded wide-body jets can take off in the blazing heat (and thin air) of the Texas summers. Photo taken 19-August-2001.
Y. Alliance Airport features a distinctive control tower. Alliance Airport is a large real-estate development masterminded by Ross Perot Jr. Photo taken 19-August-2001.