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Tuesday, January 21

Walls, walls, more walls (and other I-10 Huebner stuff)

In order to let you know what we're talking about, here's the run-down of topics discussed at this week's update meeting between TxDOT folks and Webber Construction project bosses:

Retaining walls near Huebner Oaks:
We're waiting on data collected from a test soil nail, and the guys working on that wall have given TxDOT a verbal confirmation a positive production plan is in place to advance work on the wall. Some issues with equipment have plagued this retaining wall, but the equipment that's been busted is reportedly repaired and in good shape.

Detention ponds near DeZavala Road:
The first pond has been waterproofed and work on the second pond is starting. Though waterproffing a pond sounds oxymoronic, the process is intended to keep the water in the pond and routed through the drain structures in the area. This reduces chances of potentially damaging erosion that would wash away the roadway once we're all done. Only two ponds are in the plans, so completing the first puts us about halfway finished with these parts - and potentially gives us light at the end of the tunnel to free up those crews to work in other areas.

One of the tasks we're waiting on the first pond to get going on is the ability of crews to tie the first major drain system into the ponds.

Westbound overhead highway signs between Wurzbach and DeZavala roads:
The subcontractor is waiting for the soil nail walls to be built in the areas before foundations can be drilled out.

Retaining walls near UTSA Boulevard:
Texas Highways, the subcontractor working in the area, are bringing some extra crews to speed up the process of work in this area. Those driving on the westbound frontage road have noticed the heavy excavation for these walls, and some crews are getting close to putting in actual panels to make up the wall structure. This, really, is the only action happening between DeZavala and UTSA Boulevard right now - at least on the westbound side; retaining wall work between the frontage road and the main lanes. On the eastbound side we've got retaining wall work and the detention ponds.

Traffic control plan modifications:
Over the last few weeks Webber Construction has been using regular lane closures on the frontage roads to allow trucks to enter and exit the roadway. These closures have impacted traffic around the clock, avoiding peak traffic times.

These closures, however, weren't in the original traffic control plan. They've been needed in order to preserve the safety of everybody in the area. Generally speaking, drivers don't look out for trucks leaving or entering the road. That causes backups on the job (and work delays) and the potential for crashes.

Webber has submitted plan sheets showing these closures as a revision to the project's traffic control plan, making these closures an official part of the project. Again, these closures will not be implemented during peak traffic hours, but we do anticipate them to happen around-the-clock as work progresses.

Temporary digital message boards between Loop 1604 and UTSA Boulevard:
In the upcoming weeks, a subcontractor should begin work on a temporary digital message board location near Gunn Honda along the eastbound lanes. The work will construct a temporary message board tied to the TxDOT TransGuide system, allowing us to provide drivers with a variety of messages as needed. Once work begins in February, the temporary signs should be up and operational in a few short weeks.

The next three weeks:
By the end of January, project supervisors are hoping to be finished with the demolition and tie-in work involving the walls near Huebner Oaks Shopping Center. This opens up opportunities for drain system work to begin early February and for concrete crews to form and set the backfill foundation of the retaining wall system in this area.

The roadway widening along the eastbound main lanes near UTSA Boulevard has reached a point subgrade will be laid down, with work on that and an erosion-preventing embankment over the upcoming three weeks. Crews are hoping to have that widened portion of roadway ready for traffic this spring.

Work on the first detention pond should be finished by the end of the month, with excavation for the second pond starting up as early as this weekend. The process to build these ponds can be lengthy, but we're hoping to be done really quickly so we can move into the next major phase of work at DeZavala Road.

Weather issues:
With falling temperatures this week, asphalt and concrete work will slow. Our specifications require temperatures of at least 60 degrees to lay asphalt, and temperatures of at least 40 to work with concrete. As our share of the winter blast hitting the northeast today, our temps will fall below those limits by Thursday ... and that may hinder our work by just a few days.

Our contractors have been reminding truck drivers to keep tarps on their loads to ensure safety for all those on the roadway. We don't want materials flying out of the back of a truck and catching an unsuspecting driver on the road. Trucks who aren't following the rules of securing their loads are being turned away.

Upcoming closures:
For the immediate future, we'll see closures that match what's happened lately. Most of that is alternating closures overnight between Huebner Road and UTSA Boulevard ... and, of course, the closures on the frontage roads between UTSA Boulevard and DeZavala Road discussed earlier.