South Texas Projects Hit Home Stretch
Deep in the heart of Texas, there’s a deep sense of pride.
“You gotta give it up to the team,” says I-10 Widening Project Manager Cody Hix. “We experienced several challenges on this job, but the team did fantastic.”
Hix has reason to smile these days. The $75 million TxDOT project, which received notice to proceed in late 2017, has wrapped up. Flatiron and its subcontractors widened six miles of the key highway, taking it from two lanes to four.
The stretch of highway from La Cantera Parkway to FM 3351 features the first HOV lanes in the San Antonio area.
“The project widened to the outside first, allowing traffic to shift away from the inside,” Hix says. “So, widen the outside, then widen the inside, and then overlay the entire project. Those were the phases.” Additionally two existing bridges were also widened, and one was completely demolished and rebuilt.
The project in suburban Bexar (pronounced: Bear) County was also a job for Flatiron to show off two areas where it excels: paving and structure work. Flatiron self-performed roughly three-quarters of the job.
The I-10 team managed to keep spirits high despite delays at the beginning of the project. Another contractor’s project had a ramp reversal that ran up to limits of Flatiron’s work area. When that adjacent project started running behind, so did Flatiron’s project as well.
“As we worked through bad weather, owner delays, and project turnover, we continued to find our groove, and kept beating the odds,” says Flatiron Central Texas Operations Manager Rich Snow. “A lot of hard work, long hours and dedication kept a great project team focused on the tasks at hand, and striving to get the job done.”
Hix says while there was a not a significant amount of innovation on the bid-build project, they were able to use their creativity to save TxDOT money. For example the original design called for a very large box culvert to be cast in place. Flatiron deduced it would be better for cost and schedule to go the precast route instead. “It was fabricated by a facility that does prefab concrete and it was delivered in pieces,” Hix says. “We installed these pieces very quickly. It took us 6 days to install all of these precast pieces as opposed to months of concrete working in a hole. So, helped schedule, helped price.”
Projects a result of San Antonio population boom
Some 20 miles east, another Flatiron team is about to ready to “call it a project.”
The $47 million bid-build Loop 1604 Widening Project fired up in 2018, and is expected to wrap up completely in July.
The eight miles of work area in Bexar County’s Live Oak area includes the widening of the busy Pat Booker Bridge (two separate northbound and southbound structures), four MSE walls and four sound walls. The Loop 1604 team also self-performed roughly three-quarters of the job, including all of the concrete pavement and two of the four walls.
Working around traffic was a challenge for both the Loop 1604 and I-10 projects. “Traffic is a constant challenge here,” Loop 1604 Project Manager Erik Brisson explains from his office desk. “The project had to be broken into several phases to best manage traffic concerns. We did quite of bit of work on the weekends because that is the only time ramps can be shut down. We worked through all this successfully.”
Snow praised the Loop 1604 team for not only being flexible during the course of construction, but also proposing innovative solutions to improve the project: “The project teams’ focus on continuous improvement has led to several innovations and restructuring of crews to meet or exceed self-imposed project goals and milestones.”
Flatiron, along with one of its subcontractors (name), shook up the previous design for the sound walls, coming up with something that was not only superior but also less expensive.
Brisson also praised his Safety Manager Mark Garcia for running a tight ship. The project says it went several months without a case of COVID-19, and that can be attributed to a serious dedication to following safety rules.
The population boom greater San Antonio has seen in the past several years necessitated both projects. According to several reports it’s now the seventh largest in America by population. From 2010 to 2019, the population grew nearly 17%, as people gravitated towards the Alamo City’s affordable cost of living, pleasant weather, and vibrant cultural scene.