Drivers will soon have an alternate route on El Paso’s west side when the Border West Expressway (BWE) opens to traffic early Thursday afternoon, October 3.
The 7.4 mile expressway, located south of and near I-10, represents the completion of Loop 375, and stretches from Racetrack Drive at Doniphan Road eastward to one mile east of Park Street south of downtown.
Drivers can access the new route from Sunland Park Drive, near Doniphan Road and Racetrack Drive, at Executive Center Boulevard, at Spur 1966, and Campbell – westbound only, out of downtown.
“While the design-build project is an engineering feat, the BWE is also aesthetically unique to West Texas,” project officials share. “It includes Bridge 17, a mile-long bridge that runs along the US Mexico border, providing a bird’s-eye view of our international border and is distinguishable by large decorative columns or iconic elements that stand above the roadway.”
The Executive Center Boulevard interchange on BWE will be El Paso’s first single-point urban interchange (SPUI). The design improves traffic capacity with multiple traffic movements in the concentrated location. Because the SPUI is new, drivers are encouraged to pay attention to signs, signals and pavement markings.
The Border West Expressway provides a more direct route for drivers traveling from west El Paso to the lower valley and vice versa.
While designed as a toll road, there will be a “toll deferral” period when BWE opens, allowing drivers to temporarily drive the new expressway with no toll charges.
The Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) will be responsible for toll collection and operation.
In the future, The CRRMA is scheduled to charge drivers from Racetrack Drive to Santa Fe Street for use of the four-lane, controlled access tolled facility. Local access from Santa Fe to Park Street remains non-tolled. Drivers will have the option to prepay or be billed by mail. Rates vary as type of vehicle, length driven, and time of day are considered.
Toll tags can be obtained online. Officials say using a toll tag results in “significant savings for the driver versus being billed through the mail.”
The project included: the construction of the Paisano Interchange at Coles that allows drivers to use direct connector ramps to access the Border Highway to and from east of downtown; a new McNutt exit, improvements on St. Vrain and Paisano; a new bridge over railroad tracks and the Mesa Drain on Delta; ramps from Paisano to Sunland Park; the continuation of Doniphan from Racetrack to Paisano, with an improved Doniphan/Racetrack intersection; the repaving/reconstruction of the southernmost two blocks of S. Mesa, Oregon, Kansas, and Campbell and permanent reconfiguration of Campbell, Kansas, Santa Fe and Mesa.
Construction crews poured 103,000 cubic yards of concrete; used 10 million pounds of rebar, or steel reinforcing rods; set 900,000 square feet of mechanically stabilized earth walls; placed 1, 264, 000 tons of earthen material; set 1, 173 girders or concrete beams, and placed 33,000 cubic yards of concrete for 1,400,000 square feet of bridge decks.
The project also includes the addition of 12 new closed-circuit TV cameras for traffic monitoring, and eight Digital Message Signs (DMS) to communicate with drivers along its border route that came on board at the end of July.
BWE is developed and operated under a joint Memorandum of Understanding between TxDOT and the CRRMA.