Temperature running hot. Heats up to 75% of the temp gauge but no higher on 2000 Ford Escort

I have a 2000 Ford Escort ZX2. Recently, I noticed the car temp was running a bit high. As I watched it while driving, the temp was slowly climbing, especially during stop and go traffic. I figured out the fan wasn't coming on, and replaced the Temp Gauge Sensor and the ECT Sensor. After doing this, the fan comes on, but the car still runs hotter than normal. When I start my car, the temp is at about 45% of the temperature gauge; however, when I start driving, the temp climbs to about 65-75% of the temp gauge but no higher. When I stop at a light or something, the temp drops back down to about 50% (depending on how long I stop), and when I drive again, it climbs back up to 65-75% of the way. After switching one or both sensors, the check engine light came on with a code of P0117...dealing with the ECT sensor having low voltage due to high temperatures. I am unsure of what the problem is at this point. I can not imagine why the car is running hot, but not increasing forever. It only increases to about 65-75% of thew way. When I first turn on my car, it jumps immediately to about halfway too, shouldn't it slowly be warming up to that? Any thoughts?

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