Highway Project Enhances Thriving Texas Community

Mon January 23, 2006 - West Edition
David Recht

The Dallas suburb of Irving, TX, a community of more than 200,000, has experienced substantial increases in vehicular traffic over the past fifty years.

What was once a sleepy small town on the Trinity River is now a bustling suburb, home to some of the world’s largest businesses, such as Exxon-Mobil Corporation.

In order to handle the growth, the city of Irving is investing in its major north-south corridor, MacArthur Boulevard.

The project starts at State Highway 183, a busy state highway that connects Dallas to Fort Worth (and that abuts Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, and one of the world’s busiest airports, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport).

This highway is currently in the planning phases to be widened with a major right of way taking.

For this reason, the city of Irving seeks to enhance its traffic infrastructure, such that local arterial roads have capacity that can supplement the commercial activity associated with a major highway widening like Highway 183 (also known as the “Airport Freeway”).

In order to make MacArthur Boulevard wide enough, the city acquired property along the western edge of the roadway.

This acquisition served several purposes. It allowed for adequate cross-section width of the road to handle the traffic demand.

Also, the acquisition allowed for the dedication of a city park, which is screened by a new, $260,000 masonry wall that the city built.

During the construction of MacArthur Boulevard, the park serves as a staging area for construction materials. However, the bigger challenge for this project is the traffic control.

According to Chris Collier in the city of Irving Engineering Department, keeping two lanes open in both directions during peak traffic hours is the city’s biggest priority for construction phasing.

During the design phase, Collier carefully wrote sequencing specifications for the project, and made presentations to the Irving City Council to illustrate the traffic flow on MacArthur throughout the reconstruction of the road.

Keeping traffic moving is even more impressive considering the state of existing utilities underneath MacArthur.

According to Bruce Roebuck, the project manager of McMahon Contracting LP, the general contractor, existing utilities were built around 1965.

The existing water line is ductile iron and is being replaced, along with the deep-sewer gravity line.

In some places, the sanitary sewer is 17 ft. (5.2 m) deep. This necessitates the use of shoring boxes, which, in the deepest areas are stacked on top of each other.

Additionally, MacArthur Boulevard relieves drainage from several residential and commercial developments upstream, which requires installation of two 6 by 3 ft. (1.8 by .9 m) box culverts.

To facilitate the installation of such large boxes, the city is placing one box on each side of the road, allowing the boxes to transport runoff in a parallel alignment.

The time frame to complete the utility work and paving is 300 working days.

McMahon is under contract for $6.5 million, not including construction of the wall and other park-related tasks.

To complete the job, the contractor currently has a Caterpillar IT286, and a 330BL excavator.

McMahon Contracting owns its equipment, and performs similar heavy construction jobs across the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.

Many of its clients are municipalities with needs similar to that of the city of Irving, and there will be many more large transportation projects like MacArthur Boulevard in the coming years.

(David H. Recht is a professional engineer and owner of an Irving-based civil engineering and construction firm.) CEG