Thursday, October 30

Loop 1604 expansion update

So for the average driver (that is, one who isn't a TxDOT or Williams Brothers engineer/project manager) there's not a lot going for an update on the Loop 1604 expansion project - that is, the project that will bring overpasses to the intersections of Braun, New Guilbeau and Shaenfield roads. No major road closures are happening (though occasional overnight closures are being used), so commutes aren't being disrupted.

For those curious about the progress of the job, though, here's a quick run-down on what's going on:

First, progress on the northbound frontage road between Culebra and New Guilbeau continues. Road building crews are laying down two different layers of dirt, called "sub-base", that makes up the foundation of the roadway itself. Once that sub-base is in, paving crews will lay asphalt; that's still at least a month away, though it could be later. Even with that asphalt in place, drivers shouldn't expect to start driving on that road surface for a while - and when they do begin using the frontage road, the "main lanes" will be taken out of play so crews can begin the long process of constructing overpasses.

Second, part of the frontage road construction includes small bridges over Culebra Creek, just south of New Guilbeau. Those bridges are almost ready to have beams set in place (beams are like the backbone of a bridge). No lane closures will be needed to set those beams, as bridge crews can do everything from the work area away from the roadway.

One area that could see some change in the immediate future is what used to be Leslie Road (now the southbound frontage road) between the Wildhorse subdivision and Culebra Road. Once the sub-base is in, and asphalt is placed, we'll be switching traffic over onto the left lanes. This will mean heavy work on the same side of the road as all those driveways and access points, which may require temporary (overnight or weekend) closures while crews build the road at those locations. Again, once folks see the black stuff being put on top of the dirt, that's when to start gearing up for the big switch.

Next, we've been asked a few times about the overpass at Braun Road (and the giant piles of dirt that are seen there from time to time). The work that's happening now is "out of sequence"; that is, the contractor isn't actually scheduled to be doing that work until much later in the project, but since they have the resources now they're going forward with it. This will actually speed up work on the overall project, but the overpass at Braun still won't be available for use until nearly all the work is finished. As for those large piles of dirt? Those are stockpiles. Williams Brothers is bringing dirt in from other sources and using it where needed. For instance, that sub-base we talked about above ... well, much of that is coming from the mountains of dirt that have been piled up just north of Braun Road.

Finally, the businesses near New Guilbeau and Braun Roads should begin preparing for more work headed to that area. Once the asphalt is in place for the frontage roads between New Guilbeau and Culebra, barricades will be moved to the north end of the project to allow WB to begin tying those frontage roads into the existing roadway. The wider area of Lp 1604, there near Braun Road itself, represents the future frontage roads; where the road narrows (near New Guilbeau), those are the future main lanes. The tie-in should be a simple enough process, but it will take some time.

Once all the frontage roads are built, Williams Brothers will go into full swing building the overpasses. We are on schedule to have this project completed by the end of 2016. The option to build the Hwy 151 interchange will begin late 2015 and wrap up by the end of 2017.