By Luke Schumacher | DFW Newsflash | December 2019
Irving—The Regional Hispanic Contractors Association hosted the Dallas and Fort Worth Heavy Highway Forum on Friday, Nov. 22. During the event, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) leaders and engineers spoke about current and upcoming projects.
The Irving Interchange Project at the interchanges at SH 183, SH 114, SH 12, and SPUR 482 is part of the Dallas district of TxDOT long term projects
“This project has been 10 plus years in the making,” Jessica Lewis, Irving Interchange design project manager, said. “Loop 12 is going to be the majorly reconstructed portion of this interchange. It’s going to be completely reconstructed for about 1.2 miles beginning at Union Bower and going all the way to Texas Plaza.
“[Currently], the existing section right now is six lanes on the general purpose lanes, and we have two lane frontage roads. We are proposing to add a general purpose lane in each direction to make eight lanes. Then you have two to three lanes on the frontage roads, and we’re also reconfiguring the ramps along entrances. Exits will be reconfigured as well.”
“We have 41 total proposed retaining walls throughout the project,” Dereje Tesemma, Irving Interchange construction manager, said. “We have 32 proposed bridges. Ten of them are direct connectors, and the remaining 22 are over and underpass bridges.
“The [project] is a seven day work week and also 24 hours.”
Lewis shared details about the contracts made in order to incentivize efficiency during high traffic hours.
“We put into our contract for the Loop 12 leg of the interchange [that] the contractor is to maintain three lanes open in both direction at all times,” Lewis said. “Whenever fewer of those three lanes are available, the contractor gets assessed a fee for that time period depending on how many lanes they close.”
The projects come as the Texas Transportation Commission approved the $77 billion Unified Transportation Program. The program is a 10-year plan to guide transportation project development, according to TxDOT’s website.
“We’re responsible for about $8.9 billion of that, so that’s a little bit slightly over 10 percent for the Dallas District, so we’re very blessed in that area,” Mo Bur, Dallas district engineer for TxDOT, said. “It’s fitting that we’re having this event is the Friday before Thanksgiving. You know we’re very blessed in Texas. I don’t think there’s ever been a time in the state of Texas when it’s good to be in the highway construction business.
“Dallas County is already over a million people. Texas is growing by 1,000 people a day. Half of that is from internal migration and the other half is from people coming from outside the state and outside the country. That presents a lot of challenges. All those people are bringing their vehicles with them, and they’re not really bring any more highway miles, so we need to find a way to create not additional highways, but we’ve need to find a way to develop a reliable transportation system, so people can get to their destination safely.”
On the subject of safety, Bur brought attention to orange ribbons he and other TxDOT employees wore.
“It’s been 19 years since we’ve had a single day in Texas without a fatality,” Bur said. “In Texas, we’re averaging about 3,600 people die a year. That’s about 10 people a day. But 94 percent of our fatalities.”