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'Borderland' Project Reshapes Interstate 10

Wed June 12, 2024 - West Edition #12
Irwin Rapoport – CEG Correspondent


Sundt Construction is making steady progress on two portions of the $174 million TxDOT’s I-10 Widening West Project in El Paso County.
Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction
Sundt Construction is making steady progress on two portions of the $174 million TxDOT’s I-10 Widening West Project in El Paso County.
Sundt Construction is making steady progress on two portions of the $174 million TxDOT’s I-10 Widening West Project in El Paso County.   (Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction) Of the 36 bridges included in the first portion of work, 33 are being reconstructed and three are being refurbished.
   (Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction) Each side of I-10 will have three 12-ft.-wide lanes and 10-ft.-wide inner and outer shoulders. The entrance/exit ramps are being reconfigured to X pattern ramps.   (Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction) The initiative is widening I-10 from two concrete lanes in each direction to three.   (Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction) This project has 490,000 cu. yds. of dirt excavation and 455,000 cu. yds. of embankment.   (Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction) There is nearly 89,000 ft. of new concrete barrier being installed on both the inside and outside shoulders of the highway and ramps.   (Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction)

With Sundt Construction Company continuing work on the first portion of the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) I-10 Widening West Project in El Paso County, the general contractor is preparing to start operations on the second portion of the overall project valued at $120 million.

Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction

The initiative is widening I-10 from two concrete lanes in each direction to three. This project, located in the "Borderland" where New Mexico, Texas and Mexico all meet, is being constructed as two projects.

The first portion, $174 million, began in June 2022 and has an anticipated completion date in fall 2025. In addition to widening, crews are reconfiguring ramps, reconstructing existing frontage roads, adding safety lighting and making operational improvements.

The second portion, also from the New Mexico State Line to SH 20 (North Mesa Street), is based on an accelerated Rack and Stack Program. The lane widening is 3.2 mi., going to six lanes and reconstructing the existing four lanes. The work also includes 11.2 mi. of aesthetic and landscape improvements, which Sundt will begin in late summer.

Each side of I-10 will have three 12-ft.-wide lanes and 10-ft.-wide inner and outer shoulders. Furthermore, entrance/exit ramps are being reconfigured to X‐pattern ramps throughout the limits of the project, auxiliary lanes will be implemented between ramps for additional safety and operational improvements, and the I-10 profile will be adjusted at existing overpass intersections in order to comply with TxDOT's vertical criteria for Freight Corridors. The project will also upgrade the existing drainage systems in order to account for revisions to existing flow patterns as a result of the curb and gutter.

Contractor's Work

Sundt has met several benchmarks, with work continuing on roads, bridges, ramps and underground infrastructure.

Of the 36 bridges included in the first portion of work, 33 are being reconstructed and three are being refurbished.

The typical lengths are between 120 ft. and 300 ft. and have three lanes in each direction. Instead of demolishing whole bridges at one time, the plan has been to retain half of a bridge and rebuild the other half. Sundt has crews working on several bridges simultaneously.

"Cat 336 excavators with punches and pulverizers and press down upon the concrete," said Vincente Garner, Sundt's project superintendent. "As they move from bridge to bridge, the crews are honing their work."

This project has 490,000 cu. yds. of dirt excavation and 455,000 cu. yds. of embankment.

The new bridges have one to two spans. Shafts are drilled between 6 ft. and 99 ft. deep.

Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction

"The average shaft is 36 inches wide and 30 feet deep," said Jeff Danaher, Sundt's project manager, who noted that cranes lift and place concrete beams to serve as a base for the deck.

The lengths of the beams range from 40 ft. to 108 ft. There are many different types of beams being used on this project, from 5XB20s up to TX54s.

"The choice of beam depends upon the lengths and loads determined by the engineering design," said Danaher.

There is nearly 89,000 ft. of new concrete barrier being installed on both the inside and outside shoulders of the highway and ramps. In some locations where concrete barrier is not required, there will be over 37,000 ft. of new metal beam guard fence placed.

There is a tremendous amount of roadwork.

The original asphalt lanes are being replaced with concrete lanes. The original lanes, the outer ones, are being rebuilt and the new lanes, two on each side, are placed in the median area.

For new and old lane construction, there are excavation, site prep and concrete pouring crews.

"It's almost like a moving train," said Danaher. "You have different disciplines going through."

K-rail separates the crews building the new lanes from the constant traffic.

"We've already removed the asphalt from the existing lanes," said Garner, who pointed out that the new lanes consist of a 6-in. subgrade, 12 in. of concrete and 4 in. of asphalt. "The road work is going fairly well."

The installation of the underground infrastructure, which is taking place at the same time as the construction of the new lanes, consists of storm drains, water lines and other elements.

Work on the frontage lanes and the rebuilding of ramps is also taking place simultaneously, using similar construction techniques.

"We have a lot of lane reversals for the frontage roads," said Danaher.

The Sundt management team includes project engineers and a team of experienced superintendents.

"We have an effective team dynamic," said Danaher. "This is the first time Vinny and I are working together. We have a few people on the job that have worked together for quite a while."

"The crews are working day and night, six days a week," said Garner. "They are putting in long hours, working hard, and producing. They don't hold back."

Busy days have 200 Sundt and subcontractor personnel on-site. Sundt has hired Tri-State, Allied Paving Company, A Brothers Milling, Hernandez Concrete Pumping, Concrete Pumping Inc, Atwell, Apache Barricades, Hardy Hole Drilling, Pavement Markings LLC, CTC Innovations, Major Motion Logistics, Crane Services Incorporated, A-Core, Hawk Construction, National Wire, Scott Derr Painting and HDW Construction & Drilling Inc.

Efforts are ongoing to recycle as many materials as possible, with steel sent to recyclers.

"Where we can, we are using concrete rubble as fill," said Danaher. "We're milling the asphalt and stockpiling it at a TXDOT yard. They are using it for miscellaneous maintenance work and other purposes."

Photo courtesy of Sundt Construction

With such a large amount of equipment on-site, maintenance is critical to meet benchmarks, be it daily repairs or routine maintenance.

"Wear and tear is mainly punctures of hoses, tires and hydraulic cylinders. Typical stuff," said Garner. "We have on-site mechanics to do the repairs."

Sundt crews are using a mixture of its own fleet and rented equipment. The company purchases and rents equipment from Sunstate Equipment, Wagner, Herc Rentals and United Rentals

The dealerships provide spare parts and repair models that they supply.

The construction is taking its toll on roads in the work zone.

"There is an overuse of frontage roads and alternate routes," said Wright. "Pothole repairs can be done within a couple of days."

Danaher noted that the roads and bridges his crews are replacing were well constructed.

"The portion of roadway we are working on is 30-plus years old and we had a bridge that was built in the 1970s," he said. CEG


Irwin Rapoport

A journalist who started his career at a weekly community newspaper, Irwin Rapoport has written about construction and architecture for more than 15 years, as well as a variety of other subjects, such as recycling, environmental issues, business supply chains, property development, pulp and paper, agriculture, solar power and energy, and education. Getting the story right and illustrating the hard work and professionalism that goes into completing road, bridge, and building projects is important to him. A key element of his construction articles is to provide readers with an opportunity to see how general contractors and departments of transportation complete their projects and address challenges so that lessons learned can be shared with a wider audience.

Rapoport has a BA in History and a Minor in Political Science from Concordia University. His hobbies include hiking, birding, cycling, reading, going to concerts and plays, hanging out with friends and family, and architecture. He is keen to one day write an MA thesis on military and economic planning by the Great Powers prior to the start of the First World War.


Read more from Irwin Rapoport here.





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