8-mile pipe, box culvert project DRAWS more stimulus dollars than any U.S. highway project
Providing a textbook example of a shovel-ready, concrete-intensive highway project resulting from the 2009 passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the $1 billion Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Connector highway project in North Texas called upon Hanson Pipe & Precast to provide precast concrete pipe and box culverts to the tune of nearly 34,000 ft. of product to date. Although the division of ARRA dollars to infrastructure projects has been questioned over the last two years, the powers that be for the DFW Connector had the pieces in place to go with their project with or without the extra funding.
Hanson has supplied more than 29,000 linear feet of concrete pipe, 4,900 linear feet of concrete box culverts and 330 precast concrete drainage structures so far. The 8.4-mile, publicly funded design-build project will alleviate congestion and improve air quality and safety through toll-managed lanes, continuous frontage roads, and expanded roadway capacity—24 lanes wide at some points.
The DFW Connector is located in Tarrant County, with a small portion in Dallas County, where seven highways converge (FM 2499, SH 121, I-635, SH 114, International Parkway, SH 26 and SH 360) and run concurrently for approximately eight miles immediately north of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. DFW Connector is a vital connection between North Texas businesses, commercial and recreational interests throughout the DFW International Airport, Fort Worth and downtown Dallas areas. “A project of this magnitude showcases forward thinking and efficient construction that is dedicated to improving transportation for businesses and communities now and in the future,” said Mark Carpenter, senior vice president, Hanson Building Products West. “Our precast concrete products are a sustainable and reliable choice that have successfully aided in construction flow and alleviating traffic due to quick installation and smart design.”
The DFW Connector is a rare example of a highway design-build project funded without money backed by future toll revenues. According to Tony Hartzel, Public Information Officer, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDA) projects, "This is the largest amount of ARRA funding—$250 million—for a single highway contract in the United States." The publicly funded project is receiving an additional $107 million in Proposition 14 bonds and $667 million in federal and state mobility dollars.
Hartzel explains that Texas took the idea of being shovel ready seriously and benefited from having defined an ultimate scope of approximately $1.6 billion for the DFW Connector project, should additional funding come available. "The original construction project identified $667 million in improvements that would have financing available," he said. "Less than a year later, ARRA funding was made available, and the DFW Connector project was identified as a state and regional priority for [the stimulus money]. At the peak of ARRA spending in late 2010, 527 full-time jobs at the DFW Connector were a result of [stimulus] funding."
Concrete drainage components were specified by TxDOT for superior durability and 100-year lifecycle. Hanson Pipe & Precast’s Grand Prairie and Cedar Hill, Texas, facilities were selected by the developer, NorthGate Constructors, a joint venture between Fort Worth-based Kiewit Texas Construction L.P. and San Antonio-based Zachry Construction Corp., to design the concrete precast products that will be used to manage stormwater drainage. North Texas Tollway Authority will provide toll collection.
Planning and design of the product began in October 2009 and deliveries started in February 2010. It is estimated that by the project’s completion, Hanson will have provided more than 125,000 linear feet of concrete pipe and box culverts and 1,000 precast concrete structures.
“Being a design-build project with work and design happening simultaneously in multiple areas, timing is crucial, and it was very important that we work with partners who could help us stay on track by offering products, service and flexibility to accommodate frequent schedule changes,” said Abel Ortiz, drainage manager, NorthGate Constructors. “Hanson has been highly solution-based, adaptable and responsive to our project’s needs.”
During peak hours (Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), NorthGate constructors must maintain existing lane capacity. Hanson has participated in weekly meetings since the project’s start to go over delivery schedules and product quantities with NorthGate. To date, DFW Connector has met all construction deadlines, and Hanson Pipe & Precast is projected to complete its product delivery and installation by late 2012. The DFW Connector is expected to be completed in February 2014. — By Steve Prokopy, Concrete Products Maganging Editor