“It’s a resource-driven job,” said Brenan Honey, P.E., Director of Construction for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Dallas District. “This isn’t a typical interchange with two major roads and an intersection; it’s four major roadways going through this one area. The biggest challenge is the fast-paced schedule in very heavy traffic. There’s limited area to work, and sometimes it’s hard to access.”
The project includes reconstruction of interchanges at State Highway (SH) 183, SH 114, Loop 12, and Spur 482. In addition, 1.2 miles of Loop 12 will be reconstructed and widened from six to eight lanes. Crews will also widen SH 114 from Loop 12 to SH 183 and Spur 482 with direct connectors. Additionally, Spur 482 will be reconstructed and tied into SH 183 with direct connectors.
The project includes a total of 4.6 miles of roadway construction and 4.8 miles across 32 structures (10 direct connectors and 22 overpass bridges). Crews will also remove seven existing bridges throughout the corridor.
Designed to ease congestion, the Irving Interchange project is funded by the Texas Clear Lanes initiative, with a small amount of local and state funds. TxDOT awarded Webber the low-bid contract in May 2020, but delayed the start of construction while utilities work finished.
“Toward the end we let them start setting up and mobilizing on some of the non-vertical path work,” Honey said. “Once the utilities were 100 percent clear in August 2020, we started time on the project.”
As work progresses, “The contractor is always looking for areas they can open up early,” Honey said. “Because this isn’t a linear highway project, the more areas they can get done up front, the better off the schedule will be.”
With about half the work completed by February 2022, the project is on schedule to finish in mid-2023.
Crews build bridges onsite, with prefabricated girders and deck panels.
In addition, “We utilized a lot of straddle bents that help minimize span lengths on the bridges,” Honey said. “Those bents go over the road so we don’t have to span all the way across with steel girders; we’re able to break up that span and still use concrete girders, which helps speed up the project.”
The extensive post-tensioning for the straddle bents occurs mostly at night. In fact, “Most of the bridge work takes place at night because they have overhead work and need to get equipment in when there’s less traffic,” Honey said.
“The more people we can put on this job, the better,” Honey said. “The contractor’s goal has been to get access to as much area as possible.”
To meet the aggressive schedule, the project team works around the clock, usually seven days a week. Because TxDOT needs so many people on the job, they pulled in engineering assistants to help with inspections of the many structures, as well as other tasks.
“We have a rotation program in the Dallas District for graduate engineers who haven’t been licensed yet,” Honey explained. “They start out in design then after two years go to the construction side. There were a lot of engineers in the rotation ready to go into the field and this was the biggest project coming up, so we put a lot of them on this job.”
As many as 14 engineering assistants work on the project in three 8-hour shifts each day.
“Our public information office gets the word out for full closures and the higher-profile closures, but the project team works closely with stakeholders to keep them in the loop of what’s happening,” Honey said.
That task requires more effort than usual due to the large number of businesses throughout the corridor. The list includes FedEx, Dr. Pepper, CarMax, HOLT Caterpillar, Frito-Lay, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit, as well as many smaller restaurants and businesses.
“We’re keeping all the stakeholders updated when they might be affected and making sure they’re OK with the construction work and lane closures,” Tesemma said. “We give them seven days’ notice and postpone closures if needed.”
For instance, the project team planned around the holiday rush for FedEx operations.
With the large number of lane closures required to give crews access to work areas and accommodate safe overhead operations, TxDOT set up a bank balance in Webber’s contract – a lane rental approach the Dallas District has used in other large projects to minimize disruptions as much as possible.
“We assigned a value to each of the closures and gave them a certain amount in their balance,” Honey said. “They get charged while they have a lane closed, and if they go over the amount we set, especially at peak times, it penalizes them.”
For instance, although clay soils are typical in the area, “In this particular corridor, sporadic sulfate issues could cause heaving in the pavement due to reactions with the clay,” Honey said. “In some of those areas we used flex base to avoid causing a reaction, and we also gave ourselves a buffer away from some of those sulfates. We haven’t had issues remediating it because the sulfates were identified in the design.”
Planning and design efforts for the corridor go back many years. In 2013, TxDOT finished the first phase of the project, reconstructing the interchanges at SH 114 and Loop 12. The SH 183 Midtown Express project recently completed interim improvements, and this project will construct the ultimate phase of the interchanges at SH 183, Loop 12, SH 114, and Spur 482.
“As a whole, this job was so well-planned ahead of time, there have been very few surprises and no big issues that weren’t addressed at least to some degree in the design,” Honey said.
- Owner – Texas Department of Transportation; Brenan Honey, P.E., Director of Construction, Dallas District; Dereje Tesemma, P.E., Project Manager; Michael Bazie, P.E., Deputy Project Manager
- Contractor – Webber, LLC, Irving, Texas
- Engineer of Record – Bridgefarmer & Associates, Inc., Dallas
- 1.2 million square feet of reinforced concrete slab
- 170,000 linear feet of concrete bridge beams
- 200,000 cubic yards of concrete
- 90,000 tons of hot mix asphalt
- 2.8 million pounds of steel plate beams
- More than 700 drilled shaft foundations
- More than 500 columns
Photos courtesy of the Texas Department of Transportation