The joint venture of Fluor Construction and Balfour Beatty recently broke ground on the Oak Hill Parkway Project, a $674 million endevour that has been in the works for more than 30 years, on July 1, 2021.
(Oak Hill Parkway photo)
With the turn of shovels, crews from Fluor Corporation, Balfour Beatty and officials from the Texas Department of Transportation recently held a ground breaking ceremony to commence construction on the $674 million Oak Hill Parkway project, located in Travis County, Texas, in the area of south Austin.
Construction is anticipated to be completed in 2025-26.
Decades in the making, the Oak Hill Parkway project will accommodate current and future growth by adding lanes for drivers traveling through Oak Hill, as well as frontage roads for local traffic. The project also will remove traffic signals on the mainlanes and construct flyovers between U.S. 290 and SH 71.
Once completed, the highway will serve as a key route to Austin for the residents of Oak Hill, Lakeway, Bee Cave, Dripping Springs and other growing communities west of Austin.
"This is a great example of our continued strategic focus on infrastructure projects in Texas," Terry Towle, the group president of Fluor's Urban Solutions business, said in a statement. "When completed, widening the corridor will improve mobility, operating efficiency and safety by easing gridlock in the area, enabling emergency vehicles to respond to accidents quickly."
The joint venture will be responsible for the project's construction that includes:
- A 7-mi. design-build project includes the reconstruction and widening of U.S. 290 from approximately the east end of Circle Drive to Loop 1 and State Highway 71 to Silvermine Drive in Travis County, west of downtown Austin, Texas;
- The project will widen from two to three mainlanes for through traffic in each direction as well as add two to three frontage road lanes in each direction. An overpass for the U.S. 290 mainlanes over William Cannon Drive will be built, along with direct-connect flyovers between U.S. 290 and State Highway 71;
- Bicycle and pedestrian accommodations will be built along the entire corridor, including 14 mi. of shared-use path, 1 to 1.5 mi. of sidewalks, new landscaping, tree plantings and corridor aesthetics;
Construction is scheduled for the next four years with up to 600 craft workers and subcontractors working at peak.
Crews also will construct flyovers an estimated 25-ft. high at the interchange of those two roads while excavating the mainlanes of Highway 290 to approximately 18 ft. below grade level to pass beneath the flyovers.
Additional project components include bicycle and pedestrian accommodations along the entire corridor, cross-street intersection improvements, U-turn lanes, upstream water detention to reduce potential floods and storm water detention and water quality treatment ponds.
"It's taken more than 30 years of planning," said J. Bruce Bugg Jr., Texas Transportation Commission chairman. "Thirty years of discussing and talking about a traffic solution for this area. We're here today because it's time to stop planning to do. It's time to do."
At U.S. 290 and William Cannon Drive, traffic volume has increased by nearly 50 percent since 1990.
"The Central Texas region has desperately needed the Oak Hill Parkway project for decades," said Ashby Johnson, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director. "This project can't come soon enough to support the tremendous growth in Hays, Burnet, Travis and Blanco counties."
Christiana Astarita, TxDOT's project manager of Oak Hill Parkway, added, "We are trying to make the improvements in this area that probably should have happened decades ago."
TxDOT said the project area includes 6 mi. along U.S. 290 and 1.2 miles of SH 71.
"During the decades of project planning, TxDOT listened to the community and implemented input where feasible," said TxDOT Austin District Engineer Tucker Ferguson. "As a result, this community-focused design addresses the mobility and safety needs along with community values."
"We reached capacity in 1995, so this roadway was meant to handle 37,000 vehicles," said TxDOT spokesperson Brad Wheelis. "And we hit that number a long time ago. We have nearly doubled the amount of vehicles since that time, so we need to address the issue."
Two lawsuits were filed against TxDOT because of the project. One suit was brought up because of endangered species that could be impacted while the other not only looks at the environmental impact, but also changing the design of the parkway.
"The NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] action basically says the TxDOT environmental impact study statement is deficient that they did not take into account all the environmental impacts they should have before they engage in a project of this magnitude," said attorney Bill Gammon. "We feel like we are on sound footing on that one." CEG
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