Temporary ramps lead to TEXpress lanes on I-35W

New TEXpress ramps are being added to I-35W in far north Fort Worth to improve connectivity near Western Center Boulevard.

A new temporary on-ramp from the northbound I-35W general highway lanes to the northbound TEXpress lanes will be situated just south of Western Center Boulevard.

A new temporary off-ramp from the southbound TEXpress lanes to the southbound I-35W general lanes will be just south of Western Center Boulevard.

TEXpress lanes are toll lanes that are built within an existing highway. They add additional capacity to the highway to accommodate more traffic and relieve congestion. Unlike other toll roads, the price changes based on the level of traffic in the corridor to maintain a minimum 50 mph speed.

The TEXpress lanes are fairly new to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and are unlike other toll roads in North Texas or throughout the state. It is the driver’s choice to drive in the TEXpress lanes and pay the tolls or to drive in the adjacent non-tolled general highway lanes.

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Vote for Luca the rescue dog, our hometown hero

Luca is going to Hollywood to walk the red carpet.

The retired Fort Worth Police dog has been named one of seven finalists in the Hero Dog Awards. Vote through Aug. 30 to make sure Fort Worth is well-represented at the awards gala.

Luca’s rescue story

On April 15, 2016, Fort Worth Police were dispatched to locate a missing and endangered person. Two men had visited a large salvage yard when one suddenly realized that his elderly friend with Alzheimer’s was missing. After a brief search, he realized he needed help and called police.

Luca, a 10-year-old German shepherd, was called to assist due to his experience in water, avalanche, forest and desert searches. Luca quickly fell back into his training, and soon he alerted at an opening of brush at the Trinity River, which leads to a very steep hill followed by a steep drop-off.

A PD helicopter pilot observed the lost man in the river, stuck in waist-high mud on the opposite bank from where Luca had alerted. Officers shed their gear, swam across the river and rescued the man.

Had Luca not tracked the man’s trail and located him, the man likely would have drowned in the river’s cold and fast-paced waters.

Luca’s dedication to search and rescue shows the resilience of older dogs and how their training doesn’t go away once they retire.

The seventh annual Hero Dog Awards will be held Sept. 16 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. The presentation will air on the Hallmark Channel later this fall.

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Water line flushing occurring in north Fort Worth as a preventative measure

Daily monitoring has shown some lower than normal disinfectant levels in parts of the north Fort Worth water distribution system.

While the disinfectant levels are lower than normal, the water quality continues to meet all state and federal standards.

The Water Department is implementing the recognized best management practice for these situations – flushing the older water out of the system by opening fire hydrants. Flushing moves the new water with higher disinfectant levels to the affected parts of the distribution system. The city’s primary responsibility is to protect public health.

The large, white tablets used at the flushing sites are to remove chlorine from the water in order to protect aquatic life in nearby streams.

To learn more, contact the city’s Water Department Customer Service Center at 817-392-4477.

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Don’t choke. Stop the smoke

Next time you see a smoke-belching vehicle rolling down the road, do something about it.

The Regional Smoking Vehicle Program (RSVP) is designed to inform vehicle owners that their vehicle may be creating excessive smoke and emitting pollutants that are harmful to people’s health and the environment. Driving a vehicle with excessive smoke in Texas is a violation of the state’s smoking vehicle statute, which defines a smoking vehicle as one that either emits smoke for 10 or more consecutive seconds and/or whose suspended smoke does not fully dissipate within 10 seconds.

Texas law enforcement agencies may issue citations, punishable by fines up to $1,000, to drivers operating a smoking vehicle on any roadway.

RSVP allows North Texans to anonymously report vehicles emitting visible smoke and pollution. Wireless users can call 817-704-2522 or, for certain wireless service providers, #SMOKE (#76653). Landline users can call 817-704-2522. Internet users can complete an online form.

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Monarch waystation provides beauty for humans, food for butterflies

When you visit Forest Park Pool this summer, keep an eye out for butterflies flitting among the old oak trees and above the cooling waters.

The Native Plant Society of Texas worked with the Fort Worth Park and Recreation Department to plant a monarch butterfly waystation near the entrance to the pool. More than 250 nectar-providing plants were planted in 1,250 square feet of garden beds. The waystation was dedicated this spring.

Monarch waystations are garden patches that replicate wildflower areas frequented by butterflies in the wild. They’re designed for migrating monarchs who travel through Texas on their way to overwintering in Mexico. The garden is planted with nectar plants and milkweeds for caterpillars next spring.

The purpose of the project is to save the butterflies by fostering the recovery of declining populations of migrating monarch butterflies in North America. The decline in their population over the past 20 years is mainly attributed to loss of habitat and native milkweed plants due to urban development, shifts in agricultural practices, land management activities, use of insecticides, severe weather, and degradation of their winter habitats in Mexico.

Mayor Betsy Price has signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, through which cities and municipalities are committing to create habitat and educate residents about how they can make a difference at home.

Besides the Forest Park Pool, the Native Plant Society of Texas has built a monarch waystation on I-35 at a rest area in Hill County south of Hillsboro. The waystation is one of four planned by the group along the interstate in Texas.

The effort is part of the multistate Monarch Highway Project, created to increase monarch habitat and public awareness and participation along I-35 through Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the central flyway of the monarch migration.

In Texas, I-35 follows the eastern spring migration route of monarch butterflies as they make their multi-generational trip south from Canada to Mexico in the fall and return north in spring.

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Downtown street closures due to utility work

Starting Wednesday, July 12, to Friday, July 14, Oncor Electric crews will be performing work inside manholes on Houston St. between 9th St. and 11th St. and on Throckmorton St. between 11th St. and 9th St.

Lanes impacted:

  • Northbound Houston St. between 11th St. and 9th St. will be closed.
  • Southbound Houston St. between 9th St. and 11th St. will have a left lane closure.
  • Throckmorton St. between 11th St. and 9th St. (crews will work behind barricades of existing lane closure).

Work hours for road/lane closures will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Pet adoption fees reduced to $17.76 through end of July

For the second time this summer, the Fort Worth Animal Shelter is over capacity with more pets arriving at the shelter every day.

The week surrounding the July Fourth holiday is traditionally the busiest period of the year for animal shelters; many pets get scared and run due to fireworks. Many end up in shelters.

The shelter is caring for about 610 dogs and 100 cats, all of whom are waiting to be adopted into their forever home. If there was ever a time to find the dog or cat of your dreams, now would be great since there are so many too choose from.

Fort Worth Animal Care and Control has reduced adoption fees through July 31 to $17.76. The fee includes an initial medical examination, rabies vaccination, city license, micro-chip and spay/neuter.

The main shelter campus at 4900 Martin St. in southeast Fort Worth is open seven days a week at noon. The city has satellite pet adoption centers at the PetSmart at I-35W at Heritage Trace Parkway in far north Fort Worth and at Southwest Loop 820 at Hulen Street in south Fort Worth.

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Construction resumes on Victory Forest Community Center

After an unexpected delay, Fort Worth’s newest community center is closer to opening its doors to an eager public.

Construction on Victory Forest Community Center, 3427 Hemphill St., resumed on July 3. The city reached an agreement with the bonding company to have the center substantially completed approximately 120 days from the start of construction.

About Victory Forest Community Center

Victory Forest is Fort Worth’s newest multipurpose fitness and activity center. Once completed, this premier facility in south Fort Worth will include:

  • A 2,000-square-foot fitness room complete with cardio, strength equipment and free weights.
  • A full-size gymnasium for basketball, volleyball and other sports.
  • A state-of-the-art teaching kitchen for cooking and nutrition classes.
  • An outdoor stage for community performances.
  • Multipurpose spaces and outdoor patios for special events.
  • A classroom/computer lab and youth play area.
  • Recreational programming that will be offered to all ages — from art to Zumba, and everything in between.

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Weatherford and Belknap bridge improvements start July 17

Street improvements are scheduled soon for two popular east-west thoroughfares through downtown Fort Worth.

Beginning July 17, bridge panels and concrete will be replaced on Weatherford and Belknap streets.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane each direction during construction. Please follow all posted notices and expect delays during construction. Improvements are expected to be complete by the end of August.

To learn more, contact Project Manager Tariqul Islam 817-392-2486.

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Open house to discuss land-use strategies for military installations

The North Central Texas Council of Governments is collaborating with military and community leaders for Joining Forces, a regional joint land-use study that will identify and recommend land-use strategies that support continued military capabilities.

During a joint land-use study, the cities and counties surrounding the military installation work with the installation to plan and carry out specific actions that will promote compatible community and economic growth.

The public is invited to an open house from 6-8 p.m. July 10 at Westworth Village City Hall, 311 Burton Hill Road in Westworth Village. A brief presentation on Joining Forces begins at 6:15 p.m.

In addition to Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, the Joining Forces study will examine Redmond Taylor Army Heliport, Fort Wolters Training Center, Col. Stone Army Reserve Center, Camp Maxey Training Center, Eagle Mountain Lake Training Site and the Brownwood and Brady Military Operating Areas.

Joining Forces seeks to promote compatible growth and to insulate regional military installations from encroachments that could threaten the installations’ ability to conduct their missions.

The results of the study will include recommended actions for the communities to adopt, including:

  • Zoning overlays.
  • Obstruction ordinances.
  • Comprehensive plan language.
  • Communication strategies.

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