DALHART, TX (KFDA) - The 80th Annual XIT Rodeo is here, but for Dalhart city officials this celebration will add onto the traffic headache the city is going through.
An ongoing highway project will replace SH-87, the highway that currently runs through the city, and increase the height of an underpass located in the center of the city.
"The roads were pretty deteriorated, that is why we've been lobbying to get them replaced," said city manager James Stroud. "The highway was four lanes and it has been squeezed down to one lane in each direction."
Residents have been dealing with traffic delays for 4 months now and will continue to see construction for the next 17 months.
"We have a rush hour now - 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. - it's just horrible to get from one side of town to the other on the weekends," Stroud adds. "Friday evening when people are headed to the mountains, they get backlogged and a little bit of road rage and my phone rings non-stop with people wanting me to do something about it."
Stroud says the city would not be able to manage the traffic of 17,000 people who drive through Dalhart daily without the help of first responders.
"Our volunteer firemen have been out when traffic gets really bad. They've turned off the traffic lights, direct traffic and get the extra traffic to move through town at a quicker rate. I understand it is frustrating for those drivers coming into town but we try to make the best of it."
Stroud said traffic was backed up almost three miles outside of town over the Fourth of July weekend, and the extra 4,000 people the XIT Rodeo normally adds to the daily traffic could make this weekend worse.
Road crews have made alternative routes for drivers as construction continues, but Stroud believes traffic will still be congested for a while longer.