In the world of highway construction, where myriad factors can upend even the most meticulously planned project, there are no sweeter words than “on time and on budget.”
That’s the refrain being sung by a chorus of community partners in Waco, Texas, where the massive Interstate 35 reconstruction effort achieved its latest milestone — a year and a half early — with a new 7-mile stretch of expanded freeway lanes, U-turns, and bicycle/pedestrian interchanges.
The Waco section is but one among more than a dozen projects along a 96-mile span that kicked off a decade ago. Even so, it’s arguably the most consequential, given the complexities of rebuilding one of America’s busiest highways even as 140,000 cars and trucks continued to use it daily. Whether traveling straight through or accessing hundreds of sites along the way, travelers couldn’t afford to lose their connections.
In practical terms, staying connected meant that vehicle pathway links were always reliable even as construction activity created the disruptions that are part and parcel of any major highway rebuilding endeavor. We salute the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and its many contractors who gave vivid new meaning to the metaphor about building an airplane while it’s airborne.
In digital terms, staying connected meant that travelers always had access to the most current traffic information available when planning or adjusting their journeys in response to daily lane closures. Kudos to TTI Senior Research Scientist Bob Brydia and his team for optimizing these technology applications to not only make travel easier and simpler but also help improve work zone safety and warn travelers of hazards that may lie ahead.
In personal terms, staying connected meant that every person or organization with skin in the game — whether of the public or private sector — was treated with full respect and consideration of their concerns throughout the entire reconstruction process. Bravo to TTI Research Engineer John Habermann and his team for recognizing that every affected party had a vested interest in our collective success, and for managing those relationships accordingly.
Accomplishing the I-35 rebuild in Waco was a triumph of engineering, no doubt about that. But it was no less a supreme feat of collaboration, one that will long serve as a model for other major reconstruction efforts throughout America and beyond. The era of connected mobility is clearly here to stay, with Texas leading the charge and TxDOT living its mission: Connecting you with Texas.