TxDOT’s I-35 Work to Link Major Highways

Fri March 28, 2008 - West Edition
Mary Reed



Two types of horsepower will soon be crossing ranch land south of Austin, Texas, now that State Highway 45SE (SH 45SE), is under construction north of Buda, Hays County.

SH 45SE will link I-35 to the junction of State Highway 130 (SH 130) and U.S. 183 close to Mustang Ridge, with an eye to expansion as usage dictates. Similarly, while four interchanges will be constructed for this project, another is planned.

The Texas Transportation Committee approved the $139.7 million project on April 26, 2007. Funded by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), construction began on the western end of the job in mid-July. The 7.4 mi. (11.9 km) toll turnpike will feature four lanes, a wide center median and controlled access.

The project is a joint venture between Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, and T.J. Lambrecht Construction Company, based in Euless, Texas.

Balfour Beatty Infrastructure currently is working on eight of 3l retaining walls (now about 11 percent complete) as well as seventeen of 2l bridges. For the latter, they are pouring drill shafts, footings, columns and caps, and then carrying out beam placement.

“Approximately 63 percent of the drill shafts are complete, with the rest on four bridges,” said Bill Miller, senior vice president of Balfour Beatty Infrastructure’s Southwest Region.

“Approximately 60 percent of the mass placement footings are complete with the majority of the remaining footings on the last direct connector bridge [westbound to northbound],” he added. “About 60 percent of the direct connector columns and 48 percent of their caps are constructed with approximately 47 percent of the columns and caps complete on the 18 conventional bridges.

“Type IV beams have been placed on 13 spans of one of the direct connectors [westbound and northbound] and four spans on two of the conventional bridges. Decking work will follow in the near future. Utility relocations are done and the Texas Department of Transportation is in the process of completing utility cutovers,” Miller added.

In addition, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure is at work on:

• Widening I-35. Main lanes Phase 2 is ongoing.

• Excavation and embankment on SH 45SE main lanes and I-35. Lime treated subgrade and placement of select fill on the former also is continuing.

• Storm sewer drainage on I-35 and SH 45SE continues.

• Installation of high mast lighting and electrical services continues.

Approximately 80 percent of the 2.2 million cu. yd. (1.6 million cu m) of excavation and 74 percent of 2.1 million cu. yd. (1.6 million cu m) of embankment have been accomplished. The remaining areas to be completed are at the SH 45SE/U.S. 183 intersection and along I-35.

T.J. Lambrecht Construction Company is fielding a large fleet for its excavation work. Equipment on-site includes a GOMACO 9500 trimmer, two Caterpillar 14M motorgraders and a Caterpillar D6T tractor fitted with Topcon GPS systems as well as three Topcon Hiper+ rovers.

Other Caterpillar equipment on the job includes a D8T tractor with Accugrade automatic machine control, 631 scrapers, D6, D8, and D10 bulldozers, 345 and 375 excavators plus 740 off-road dump trucks, 825H compactors and RM500 reclaimers for soil stabilization.

“Once the select embankment is placed on the SH 45SE main lanes, 4 inches of asphalt bond breaker will follow and after asphalt placement, 13 inches of reinforced concrete paving will be placed. Concrete paving is scheduled to begin in mid-March,” Miller noted.

Balfour Beatty Infrastructure’s crew includes 22 salaried and 114 hourly employees, with some 100,000 man hours worked to date. The job is on schedule for completion in early June 2009. CEG