Along with replacing the current intersection with an overpass, the project will include two lanes in each direction over Major Drive
Road improvement projects are keeping construction crews busy in the Beaumont area of southeast Texas where upgrades to Interstate 10 that connects the region to Louisiana are under way.
Contractor Williams Brothers Construction Co. Inc. of Houston has two projects on I-10. One is a $60 million project to replace the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge over the Neches River and the other is a $29.9 million contract to replace the I-10 and Major Drive intersection southwest of Beaumont with an I-10 overpass across Major Drive. Currently Major Drive crosses over I-10 at the intersection.
Both projects are overseen by the Texas Department of Transportation. Project manager is Kevin Grissom, engineer in training at the Beaumont Area TxDOT office.
Both the Interstate 10-Major Drive intersection and Purple Heart Memorial Bridge were aging and needed to be upgraded for safety and growing traffic volumes. A mix of commuters and truckers use I-10 on a regular basis.
“The Major Drive-I-10 project will increase safety and reduce congestion in that particular area,” said Sarah Dupre, public information officer in the Beaumont office of the Texas Department of Transportation.
The Purple Heart Memorial Bridge provides access to Jefferson and Orange counties. The Neches River meanders through a floodplain area just east of Beaumont.
The 50-year-old bridge has seen an increase in vehicle traffic to about 80,000 a day.
The new Purple Heart Memorial Bridge is expected to be finished in 2017.
When completed, the bridge will contain three lanes in each direction. Currently, the bridge has three eastbound lanes and two lanes heading westbound.
The bridge will be 3,897 ft. (1,188 m) long and 140-ft. (42.7 m) wide. Construction of the bridge requires heavy use of concrete and steel, Dupre said.
It will feature an obelisk on each corner with a purple heart etched into the obelisks, she said.
The project will feature 12 subcontractors. All work takes place during the day, with 50 workers on site from more than a dozen trades.
Current work on the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge includes driving pile on the westbound section and installing bridge deck panels and overhang brackets on span 1 of the bridge.
Crews also have been busy hauling dirt to the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge site.
“More than 1,000 cubic yards of dirt is being brought into the project,” Dupre said.
Materials removal also has been a big part of the process.
Removed concrete is being recycled and steel is being reused for other projects.
Water craft and equipment on site at the bridge project includes five barges; one forklift; two 20-ft. (6 m) boats; two cranes; three generators; three lighting units; five welding machines; eight backhoes; one sheep's foot roller; eight man lifts; four utility trucks; two sweepers; two loaders; four flatbed trucks, two truck-mounted attenuators; three air boards; and one air compressor.
Specialty equipment includes a hydrostatic hammer to drive piles and specialty forms.
Major Drive Overpass Construction
Along with replacing the current intersection with an overpass, the project will include two lanes in each direction over Major Drive, constructed in such a way that it can be converted to three lanes in each direction in the future.
The project will include construction of a new I-10 frontage road for westbound traffic. Currently there is only an eastbound I-10 frontage road at the location.
Freeway ramps are not part of the project.
Current construction includes excavation, installation of concrete panels, hauling stabilized sand for the retaining walls and pouring a flexible base material for the roadway, Dupre said.
Heavy equipment currently on site includes four three-quarter-ton pickup trucks; one backhoe; one 12-in. (20.5 cm) blade; four six-foot bulldozers; one concrete pump truck; one crane; two truck-mounted attenuators; one drill rig; four flat-wheel rollers; two generators; one excavator; 25 16-cu.-yd. (12 cu m) haul trucks; one flatbed haul truck; two lighting units; four loaders; one man lift; two message boards; one bulk material reclaimer; two sheep's foot rollers; one sweeper; four truck hoes; and two flatbed trailers.
Major Drive will be widened to five lanes, two lanes in each direction, with a center turning lane. The Major Drive curve just to the north of the interchange will be slightly straightened to improve safety.
Construction schedule is seven days a week. Work began in August 2015 and is expected to conclude in March 2017. Construction is being conducted in three phases, with the current Major Drive overpass removed as part of Phase 2.
“The project has caused some traffic delays,” Dupre said. “When the eastbound section of the new bridge was completed and opened, traffic congestion was relieved significantly.”