Musk's Company Talks Tunnel Project Near Stadium

Louisiana’s Geaux Wider Project Underway

Wed June 30, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Mary Reed


Austin Bridge & Road grades the median on EB/WB I 10 in preparation for lane expansion from four lanes to six.
Austin Bridge & Road grades the median on EB/WB I 10 in preparation for lane expansion from four lanes to six.
Austin Bridge & Road grades the median on EB/WB I 10 in preparation for lane expansion from four lanes to six. Austin Bridge & Road constructs a portable trestle bridge as a value engineering concept due to crane access issues. This Interstate 10 bridge over Wards Creek will be widened during the pre-construction phase.

At the risk of many puns being made on its name, Louisiana’s Geaux Wider project is Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development’s ambitious multi-year project to decrease travel time between Interstates 10 and 12 in East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parishes.

The goal of this $86 million federally funded project is to enhance safety and relieve congestion along these heavily traveled highways by widening them from four to six lanes. With an expected completion date in the third or fourth quarter of 2012, the Geaux Wider Initiative will be built in three phases with stages.

Phase I Stage I, now completed, consisted of construction of temporary lanes for traffic detours on the east and eastbound lanes.

Phase I Stage II will involve construction of new inside lanes and shoulder throughout the existing median, with work beginning on center phases of Wards Creek, Essen Lane, Bluebonnet and Siegen Lane overpass bridges in Baton Rouge.

Phase II Stage I will allow westbound traffic to be shifted to the new lane and shoulder in the center median while the westbound bridges and lanes are being rebuilt. Eastbound vehicles will continue to use the existing bridges.

Phase II Stage II will allow westbound traffic to be shifted from the center median to the new westbound lanes. Eastbound traffic will then move to the center of the new lane and shoulder while outside portions of road and bridge construction of the eastbound lanes is carried out.

Phase III is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2011 and end in the last quarter of the same year. It will open traffic on the new inside and center lanes while permanent shoulders and outside lanes are constructed eastbound and westbound. Phase III-A involves reconstruction of the on/off-ramps in designated areas of Interstates 10 and 12.

Austin Bridge & Road, based in Irving, Texas, is working on Phase I Stage II on Interstate 10. A major highway in southern Louisiana, I-10 traverses Baton Rouge and New Orleans, turning south of Lake Pontchartrain to reach the latter.

With 75 employees on-site, their contract requires the widening of a 4.1-mi. (6.5 km) stretch from four to six lanes from the Interstate 10 and Interstate 12 split to Siegen Lane in Baton Rouge. This location designates where the heavily traveled Interstates become two lanes each way. Average daily traffic numbers in this area nears 90,000 vehicles.

“We are currently working on excavation, embankment, base course, drilled shafts, and jack and bore storm drain,” Austin Bridge & Road project manager Jim Rogers said.

The company is using Caterpillar dirt equipment and Link-Belt 238, Manitowoc 4100, and Grove RT cranes as well as Blade Pro grade control systems.

“We’re also using Gomaco concrete paving equipment, supplied by a Vince Hagan concrete batch plant,” Rogers added.

Case Atlantic Company, subcontractors to Austin Bridge & Road, headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., is drilling shaft foundations and Tristate Road Boring Company Inc., of Baton Rouge, La., is handling jack and bore pipe work.

Austin Bridge & Road engaged a number of subcontractors, including Traffic Solutions Inc., based in New Orleans for barricades and guardrail; Jack B. Harper Contractors Inc., Mandeville, La., is providing electrical and striping services; W. T. Construction, Baton Rouge, La., is responsible for sound wall construction; R. M. Winchell Company Inc., Lafayette, La.,, provided concrete traffic barrier; and QPL Inc., Thibodaux, La., supplied portable concrete traffic barrier.

Phase I Stage II of the widening project will be completed in August 2011. This segment of the project involves 232,000 cu. yds. (177,376 cu m) of earthwork; 282,000 sq. yds. (235,787 sq m) of Class II base course; 275,000 sq. yds, (229,935 sq m) of concrete paving; 30,000 linear ft. (9,144 m) of concrete barrier; and 20,000 linear ft. (6,096 m) of concrete pile. The bridge deck consists of 162,000 sq. ft. (15,050 sq m) of slab and shafts drilled will total 4,000 linear ft. (1,219 m).

What began as Austin Bridge Company, Austin Bridge & Road is a well-known name in the Texas infrastructure construction business dating back to 1889. A subsidiary of Austin Industries, the company maintains offices in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona. Historical landmark projects include the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport spine road and bridges, and Texas’ longest bridge connecting South Padre Island to the mainland across 2 mi. (3.2 km) of coastal water, the Port Isabel Bridge. Current projects include a $180 million project on IH 30 in Garland, Texas, and a $188 million Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) project that involves designing and constructing 5 mi. (8 km) of light rail and a terminal facility. Austin Bridge & Road’s services include pre-construction, design-build, construction management and general construction in the heavy highway industry. In addition, the company owns and operates asphalt plants in three major Texas markets.