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Bridge Construction On I-35 Critical to Texas' Livelihood

Wed August 25, 2021 - West Edition #18
Irwin Rapoport – CEG Correspondent


Crews demolished the existing bridge structure that was built in the early 1960s. Phase II, which is ongoing, includes the construction of the eastbound bridge. Phase III has crews constructing the westbound bridge, which should be complete by late 2021. Dan Williams Company was tasked with building two new bridges on 
I-35/Ronald Reagan Boulevard to improve mobility, safety and connectivity in Texas Previously, only bridge existed. The project is based on three construction phases. Phase?I (eight months), included setting up the work zone, installing temporary signage and the start of construction for the eastbound bridge. Phase II, which is ongoing, includes the construction of the eastbound bridge,Phase III has crews constructing the westbound bridge, which should be complete by late 2021.

Construction crews from the Dan Williams Company are well on their way to completing a crucial project that will largely benefit Texas and surrounding areas.

The project — overseen by the Texas Department of Transportation — involves replacing the existing two-way bridge at I-35 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard (Theon Road) with two new one-way east and westbound bridges.

Construction began on June 17, 2019, and the finished product should be delivered in November/early December of this year.

The project, part of the overall Mobility35 Program, is taking place in the city of Jarrell (Williamson County), and has seen the completion of the 242-ft. long eastbound bridge, while work is continuing on the westbound bridge. Each bridge will accommodate one travel lane, a bike lane and a 6-ft. sidewalk. Crews also are realigning the road with CR 311 in order to connect to the newly constructed bridges.

"Lack of mobility on I-35 threatens the economic livelihood of Texas," said Diann Hodges, TxDOT' Southwest communications director. "With more than 92,000 vehicles traveling on this segment of I-35 each day, this project will improve mobility, safety and connectivity for all modes of transportation along I-35."

Construction Details

The project is based on three construction phases. Phase I (eight months), included setting up the work zone, installing temporary signage and the start of construction for the eastbound bridge.

Phase II, which is ongoing, includes the construction of the eastbound bridge, which was opened to the public last June, and upgrades to the north and southbound I-35 frontage roads, which is occurring now.

Phase III has crews constructing the westbound bridge, which should be complete by late 2021.

"The contractor performed as much work as possible without impacting traffic on the existing Ronald Reagan Bridge," said Hodges. "They also worked simultaneously on the new eastbound bridge elements, as well as traffic detours, for future construction phasing."

Dan Williams Company worked around the clock to demolish the existing bridge structure that was built in the early 1960s.

"The overall bridge demolition took two days to complete," said Hodges. "They utilized equipment to break the old deck and rail down into bite size pieces, and used protective mats with equipment below to protect the integrity of the roadway."

The project is all about phasing, which had construction of the eastbound bridge begin in spring 2019.

"Due to the new vertical profile of the proposed eastbound bridge, traffic was detoured for approximately a week until bridge header build ups were constructed in order to put traffic on the new structure" said Hodges. "Currently, two-way traffic is on the new eastbound structure, while the contractor continues constructing the new westbound bridge, as well as other roadway improvements in the area."

Space was not an issue for Dan Williams Company crews, who were able to use TxDOT right-of-way on either side of this portion of I-35, which has two lanes in either direction and a shoulder on each side; a concrete median barrier separating traffic adjacent to the ROW was a site used to store materials.

Some of the road improvements are occurring on the gently-sloped ROW, which had excavators and dozers prepping the site. This element involved creating temporary dirt road to permit equipment to reach the bottom to support the bridge construction operations.

Peak days have nearly 20 construction workers on-site, with local and regional subcontractors pitching in.

The tallies for the amounts of materials that were generated via excavation and demolition and for new materials that are being delivered on-site, are still being finalized.

Additional equipment includes various loaders, mini-excavators and pick-up trucks.

Dan Williams Company purchases and rents equipment from regional and local dealerships.

Binkley & Barfield Inc. designed the new bridges.

"The project involves the construction of two bridges where only one existed," said Kyle Russell, TxDOT's assistant Georgetown area engineer. "This required the design team to align the roadway with the new eastbound bridge. And because bridge heights were increased, there was level-up work on the frontage roads."

There have been some traffic impacts due to the work.

"We appreciate drivers being patient during construction," said Hodges. "Demolition of the existing bridge required lane closures on I-35. Beam sets will also require mainlane closures."

Project Background

The project's development was funded by the Williamson County Road Bond Program and the $12.3 million construction cost is funded by TxDOT and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

"These much-needed improvements will make it safer and easier for all modes of transportation in a growing area of Williamson County," said TxDOT Georgetown Area Engineer Bobby Ramthun at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell Jr. agreed: "These overpass improvements will continue to make Williamson County an amazing and safe place to live."

"The I-35 at Ronald Reagan Boulevard project is a crucial link in Williamson County's long-range transportation plan," said Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey. "It is vital to the safety and mobility of a fast-growing area within the county." CEG




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