TransMountain/Loop 375 Open on El Paso's West Side

By Aaron Bracamontes / El Paso Times



Another portion of Loop 375 is now open.

City and Texas Department of Transportation leaders on Monday signaled the completion of two Loop 375 projects – one on the Westside and one in Northeast. The two projects are the Trans Mountain West Project and Trans Mountain Northeast Project, which connect Interstate-10 to Trans Mountain and to the East Side without a stop light.

"All that is left to do is the southern route (of Loop 375)," said Bob Bielek, El Paso district engineer for TxDOT.

He spoke during a ribbon cutting-ceremony that was also attended by Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, state Rep. Joe Moody, Northeast city Rep. Carl Robinson and Westside city Rep. Ann Morgan Lilly.

 "It felt like it was almost done overnight," Bielek said. "I know for the people who were waiting for it to open, it took forever. But when you consider how much road we had to build, it went as fast as imaginable."

Construction on the Trans Mountain West Project began in 2012 and cost about $61 million, according to TxDOT. The project turned a two-lane undivided roadway into a four-lane highway with a median and two frontage roads that run from Interstate-10 near Canutillo to Franklin Mountains State Park.

It coincides with the $50 million Trans Mountain Northeast Project, which began in 2011. Loop 375 now goes under U.S. 54 to the rest of Loop 375 which used to end just past the Dyer exit.

"For once you can get from East to West and West to East without a traffic light," Houghton said.

The new road should make travel easier for all drivers because it gives them options, Houghton said.

"Now you can go from the Zaragoza (port of entry) all the way to the West side without stopping," he said.

"It is going to change traffic patterns in El Paso like Spur 601 did when it was built."

O'Rourke, who was on city council when the project began, said he is proud for what the road will do for El Paso to make life easier on drivers and spur the economy.

"Today's accomplishment is a part of a much bigger story for El Paso," he said. "It is why I am proud of El Paso."

Lilly said the road will help developments on the Westside such as new neighborhoods and a proposed hospital, which will be right off Trans Mountain Road.

The project also added a biking and hiking trail that will be dedicated to Elizabeth Hernandez, who was killed when a car swerved to avoid oncoming traffic on Oct. 2, 2010 near Trans Mountain and Resler. The jogging trail should be protected from drivers.

"That old road was a disaster, it was dangerous for joggers and bikers," Lilly said. Hernandez "was on the right side of the road, the driver just did not see her."

Aaron Bracamontes may be reached at 546-6156.


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