Completing major road reconstruction projects years ahead of schedule — especially in Texas’ urban areas — saves lives, time and a lot of commuter frustration. However, speeding up the process while maintaining the quality of the work and emphasizing safety is no easy task. It requires extensive planning, coordination and buy-in from all the players.
That’s why the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) conducted the two-day Workshop on Accelerated Road and Bridge Construction, held this summer and attended by representatives from road construction companies, the Texas Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, paving and concrete companies and transportation engineers.
“Accelerated construction is becoming a priority across the nation, but we simply don’t have much research that tells us what works and what doesn’t,” says TTI Research Engineer David Newcomb, who helped develop the workshop. It included breakout sessions and numerous case studies. “The workshop identified what we already know to effectively accelerate road and bridge construction. But, with help from all the participants, it also identified areas that need future research or implementation efforts.”
Newcomb and TTI Associate Executive Director Jon Epps are finishing up a detailed final report on the workshop that will help guide agencies when considering future accelerated construction projects.
“We owe it to the people of Texas who voted for increased transportation investments when they approved Proposition 1 and Proposition 7,” says TxDOT’s Randy Hopmann, director of District Operations. “They want better roads and bridges, transportation improvements delivered and safer transportation overall. We can give that to them when accelerated construction is done right. And that’s our goal.”
Hopmann was a participant and a proponent of accelerated construction. “We want to put guidelines and policy statements together as a result of this workshop. Then, take it on the road to conduct regional workshops to involve TxDOT employees, the construction community and transportation planners.”
Although accelerated construction may cost more initially, Hopmann says it winds up saving money when you consider the indirect costs of construction. “When businesses lose customers because they are near a work zone, when travel times go up because of road construction and congestion, those are real costs we need to take into consideration,” he says.