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TxDOT Honors Contractors with Texas Project Awards

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At the October letting, Interim Executive Director John Barton addressed the monthly membership luncheon, saying he was honored to be with “the people who are committed to making transportation in Texas better.”

At the October letting, Interim Executive Director John Barton addressed the monthly membership luncheon, saying he was honored to be with “the people who are committed to making transportation in Texas better.” Barton recognized the recipients of the Texas Project Awards, which serve to recognize the special cooperative spirit it takes to complete complex transportation projects and solve difficult problems. He also recognized the efforts of TxDOT employees in advancing the department in the achievement of its transportation goals.

This year, there were six projects for construction and two projects for design.

Construction Award #1

Abilene District: Brian Mason with W.W. Webber, LLC and TxDOT Engineering Technician Coker Roswell (on behalf of Timothy W. Roswell, who passed away January 2011)

In 2010, the Abilene District completed a high-profile project that was a key part of a long-term plan to improve safety and mobility for traffic accessing Dyess Air Force Base and other areas of northwest Abilene from the I-20 Corridor. This $22.7 million project was awarded to W.W. Webber, LLC and involved the construction of a new interchange on US 84 at FM 3438.

The complexity of the design was demanding and proper placement of re-bar was an issue. However, TxDOT worked with Webber to resolve this issue and ensure proper placement minimizing corrective work. Their coordination helped bring the construction and recordkeeping elements of the project together. They understood the importance of the project to the community, and both made a concerted effort to overcome any obstacles so the project could move forward. This project demonstrated how a good, solid relationship is essential for smooth project delivery and quality work.

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Construction Award #2

Fort Worth District: Mark Smith with W.W. Webber, LLC, Jason Crawford with TTI Mobility, and TxDOT Project Manager Robert Freeman

In 2007, TxDOT and W.W. Webber partnered to transform 5.8 miles of former turnpike landscape into a modern Texas highway. Working with local communities and agencies, TxDOT began studying I-30 improvements in the 1990s to address traffic demand and congestion. The development process was a partnership between TxDOT, the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ Regional Transportation Council, and the City of Arlington.

The $165 million improvements included one-way frontage roads, rebuilding the I-30 main lanes, building new bridges, and extending the reversible HOV lanes into Tarrant County. Under the leadership of TxDOT Project Manager Robert Freeman and W.W. Webber Project Manager Mark Smith, this partnership succeeded in opening the project prior to the World Series and Super Bowl XLV. It was on budget with a $3.2 million savings that was reapplied to the project. They met critical milestones and opened four months early.

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Construction Award #3

Odessa District: Danny Thompson with A Greater Austin Development Co., Ltd. and TxDOT Engineering Technician Lonnie Lara.

TxDOT’s Odessa District contracted with Greater Austin Development Co., Ltd. for a Safe Routes to School project in Midland, Texas. The $697 thousand project was funded by a pair of grants. The project called for installation of sidewalks, crosswalks, driveways, a driver feedback sign, ADA-compliant ramps, bicycle storage rack, and school zone signs.

Lonnie, Lara, and Danny Thompson worked hard to accommodate residents in the area by modifying their schedule for a graduation party, moving and replanting trees, and dealing with yard irrigation systems along the route. This project had more than its share of minor distractions. A shared spirit of customer service and professionalism coupled with some smart communication allowed the project to complete 31 days early with only 149 of the 180 allotted days used.

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Construction Award #4

Pharr District: Isaac Heredia of Ballenger Construction Co. and TxDOT Engineer Sergio Cantu, P.E.

This section of FM 396 was constructed after years of planning and coordination between TxDOT and local entities in an effort to provide access to a new international border crossing and to connect U.S. 83 to FM 1016. On Aug 7, 2008, the 2.38-mile project was let and awarded to Ballenger Construction Co. in the amount of $24 million and started on Nov 10, 2008.

Some of the challenges that were encountered on this project were the water table, which was less than 5 feet from natural ground throughout the project, providing electrical service to FM 396, and struggling to achieve the required vertical clearance of 23 ft at the railroad. Coordination with local and international entities such as the City of Mission, City of McAllen, Mexican officials, U.S. Border Patrol, Irrigation District, Sharyland Utilities, and Union Pacific Railroad was essential in the construction of this facility.

The international bridge was opened on Dec 15, 2009. TxDOT and Ballenger construction Co. had the project ready to welcome the thousands of travelers entering the U.S. from Mexico.

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Construction Award #5

Paris District: Al McNabb with A.K. Gillis and Sons, Inc. and TxDOT Engineering Technician Ricky Daniels.

This project was located in Sulphur Springs with the primary component being construction of SH 11 roadway south of IH 30. The new location of SH 11 varied in width from 56 ft to 80 ft and included several cross drainage structures and one bridge structure. The completion of this project allowed for SH 11 to be re-routed down SH 19 and away from downtown.

Challenges faced on this project were the widening of SH 19 from a rural 2-lane section to a 5-lane curb and gutter section within a narrow ROW. Also, Midway through the project, Sulphur Springs ISD purchased property along the new location SH 11 ROW. They met with TxDOT about modifying the design. Their efforts went a long way toward satisfying issues ranging from the type of sod being installed to materials used on residential driveways to addressing the access to a Pilot Truck Stop. Al and Ricky worked with the owner and the contractor to construct a temporary drive to provide access for these vehicles while the permanent drives were being built. This project was completed ahead of schedule and improved mobility in the community.

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Construction Award #6

Paris District: Dennis Johnson with R.K. Hall Construction Ltd. and TxDOT Engineering Technician Crystal Cook.

This was a Safety Bond Project located just south of Greenville which reconstructed the existing 44 ft wide pavement to 58 ft, adding a 14 ft center turn lane by widening the existing roadway 7 ft on each side.

The biggest problem faced was not having cross sections with which to build the project. The utility companies were not able to determine whether they needed to relocate their facilities based solely on typical sections and plan profile sheets. This was further complicated by the fact that the project was accelerated to letting before any advance utility coordination could be done.

The process of relocation was painstakingly slow. The Contractor had to formulate a plan daily to keep the project moving. It required a willingness to split up operations and work in shorter sections than they originally planned. It was a good example of the partnering spirit in action. There was a huge safety benefit with this project separating turning vehicles from through traffic.

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Award #7

Bryan District: TxDOT Assistant Area Engineer, Susan A. Icke, P.E.

SH 6 in southern Brazos County was a congested old four lane undivided road with no shoulders and steep-sided open drainage ditches. Growth in traffic and a reputation for crashes indicated the need for a better transportation facility.

The design team went to work on construction plans to widen the rural arterial to a freeway and eliminate the last gap in divided highway connections between the Bryan College Station community and Houston.

The project presented several challenges. Susan and her team created a set of plans built by the contractor with very few, and then, only minor construction problems. In doing so they designed the largest dollar volume project, at over $100 million, ever undertaken in the Bryan District.

This project had its own unique aesthetic identity while conforming to a theme found along the entire SH 6 corridor in Brazos County and the challenging design included protection of several protected wetland areas included in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Individual Permit for the project.

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Award #8

Childress District: TxDOT Design Engineer Charles B. Steed, P.E.

The Martin Luther King, Old Reliance Road underpass on SH 6 was a narrow two-lane bridge that struggled to accommodate the growing school bus, pedestrian, and vehicular traffic that was expected to boom with the completion of a new high school just down the road.

The design team from the Childress District, led by Chuck Steed, in support of the Bryan District, went to work on construction plans for a project to widen the busy urban bridge to meet the fast paced schedule required to match the increasing transportation needs of the growing community.

The greatest challenge was designing a construction sequence and traffic control plan to maintain traffic through the project with minimal interruptions for the duration of the project.

The designers met the challenge with a variety of accessibility treatments that fit within the adjacent facilities that meshed efficiently and safely with the roadway design.

In the true spirit of “OneDOT” the two districts established open lines of communication and coordinated the roadway design, with bridge details by the Houston Bridge Office, into a quality set of plans delivered ahead of an aggressive schedule.

Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients. Each one is a shining example of why we have the best roads, best contractors, and best DOT in the country.

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