Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer
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ACTT Workshop - Project Pegasus
September 9-11, 2003
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Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) is a strategic process that identifies innovative techniques and technologies to reduce construction time on major highway projects while enhancing safety and improving quality. In September 2003, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) hosted a two-day workshop that applied ACTT principles and practices to the real-life case of "Project Pegasus," a major reconstruction of downtown Dallas traffic arteries now in the planning phases.
The workshop, which was held September 9-11 in Dallas, Texas, brought together almost 100 attendees from 19 states, including Washington, DC. Its purpose was twofold: to draw on the expertise of participants to help generate specific, practical recommendations for the ongoing development of Dallas' Project Pegasus; and to demonstrate for attendees how the ACTT process works in a real-life scenario so that they could apply ACTT in their own agencies. The key element of the workshop was the brainstorming session, which brought together experts from across the country with their local counterparts to search for methods and measures that would help TxDOT achieve its chief project objectives, namely minimizing construction time and traffic delays.
Project Pegasus consists of total reconstruction of the IH 30/IH 35E interchange - locally known as the "Mixmaster" - as well as other portions of both highways. The project will involve some 11 miles of roadway and over 99 entrance/exit ramps; moreover, the roads to be rebuilt are crossed by busy freight and commuter rail lines, and wind their way through and near historic buildings, hospitals, public parks, and flood-control levees. Because neither IH 30 nor IH 35E has been substantially improved since their original construction in the early 1960s, the redesign of the corridors will necessarily be dramatic in order to comply with current safety requirements and traffic-management guidelines. Another challenge presented by the project is handling the hundreds of thousands of vehicles that travel through the Mixmaster interchange each day. These are precisely the issues that ACTT was developed to confront, making Project Pegasus a natural choice as the topic for a national ACTT workshop.
Opening the workshop on September 9 were three officials representing TxDOT: Robert Nichols of the Texas Transportation Commission, Dallas district engineer Bob Brown, and the city's interim director of transportation planning and development Brian Barth. Following their remarks, the Chair of TRB A5T60, Don Lucas, posed the question "Why ACTT? Why Now?" before bringing on several TxDOT representatives to give an overview of Project Pegasus.
Over the course of the following day and a half, participants broke into nine "Skill Set" teams to examine how ACTT methods could be implemented to accelerate various aspects of the project. Once the Skill Set teams had developed lists of ideas, workshop participants began intermingling so that members could consult with experts from other Skill Sets. As the workshop progressed, each team completed report forms summarizing their ideas and recommendations (included as Appendix C), and also narrowed the results of their brainstorming and consultation down to a list of five to seven "priority" recommendations. These lists were then presented by each Skill Set team to the entire conference.
The workshop Skill Sets selected by TxDOT prior to the start of the workshop were: Environment; Geotechnical/Materials/Accelerated Testing; Structures; Right-of-Way/Utilities/Railroad; Innovative Financing and Contracting; Roadway/Geometrics; Traffic Engineering/Safety/ITS/Worker Health; Construction; and Long-Life Pavements/Maintenance. Each Skill Set team focused on how the ACTT process applied to the specific concerns of their area of expertise while collectively, the teams searched for methods/measures to help TxDOT achieve its goals of maintaining traffic with minimal disruption, accommodating regional/national/international events, providing access to emergency facilities, reducing construction time from 7 to 4 years, and maintaining a safe work zone.
To help TxDOT achieve its project goals, the teams offered the following recommendations, many of which were deemed viable and will be pursued, according to TxDOT Dallas District management:
Long Life Pavement Design
With the workshop now completed, it now remains for TxDOT to sift through the various workshop ideas/recommendations and decide which ideas should be implemented in future planning, design, and construction phases of Project Pegasus. Six-month and one-year meetings will be coordinated with TxDOT to evaluate the long-term benefits of the workshop and the extent of the implementation of its recommendations.
Chapter 1 - ACTT Background & Purpose
In recent years, communities have witnessed a tremendous increase in highway construction activity, addressing the need to preserve or rebuild our highway infrastructure. Although highway construction is unavoidable, unnecessarily long construction time should be avoided because the process is costly, exposes construction workers to traffic, and subjects motorists to substandard conditions. Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) can help to minimize traffic delays and community disruptions by reducing cost and construction time, while improving construction quality and workzone safety.
ACTT is a strategic process that uses innovative technologies and techniques to reduce construction time on major highway projects while improving construction quality and workzone safety. A complete Accelerated Construction approach involves the evaluation of all aspects of highway projects from planning and development to design and construction within a highway corridor. Successfully deploying ACTT for the benefit of the traveling public requires a thorough examination of all facets of highway corridors, with the objective of improving safety, optimizing cost effectiveness, and minimizing adverse impacts.
Recommendations outlined in Special Report 249 from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) called for the creation of a forum to promote accelerated construction in the highway infrastructure. Based on this recommendation, TRB Task Force A5T60 was formed in 1999 with the following objectives:
Fully supporting the task force's mission and objectives, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Technology Implementation Group (TIG) of the American Associations of State Transportation Officials (AASHTO) joined the task force's outreach effort. This resulted in the formation of a national resource pool known as the "National Skill Sets Council" and completion of two ACTT pilot workshops. With successful completion of two ACTT pilot workshops (one in Indiana and the other in Pennsylvania), A5T60 passed the concept off to TIG and the FHWA to continue the effort by conducting all future workshops.
In 2003, the ACTT Management Team, consisting of TIG and FHWA representatives, started implementing the ACTT program by sharing its workplan with State DOTs and soliciting their consideration of the concept on major highway projects by hosting an ACTT workshop. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) selected "Project Pegasus" as the focus of the workshop. The rationales for choosing this particular project, which involves the reconstruction of IH 30 and IH 35E near downtown Dallas, include:
1.2 Purpose of ACTT
The purpose of an ACTT Workshop is to explore innovative ways that highway corridors could be brought to full service more quickly and safely, and with fewer adverse impacts on the traveling public. The Project Pegasus workshop brought a multidisciplinary national team of transportation professionals together with their local counterparts. Over the course of two days, the workshop participants explored innovative ways to accelerate the construction of Project Pegasus. The workshop included plenary sessions, breakout sessions, skill set interaction, closing remarks, and a follow-up action plan.
Chapter 2 - Project Details
2.1 Corridor Description
Project Pegasus is intended to totally re-design and restore mobility to the two major Interstate Highways directly serving downtown Dallas. The study area, shown in Figure 1, covers IH 30 from Sylvan to IH 45 and IH 35E from Eighth Street to Empire Central (north of SH 183). The interchange of IH 30 and IH 35E is locally known as the "Mixmaster" and the depressed portion of IH 30 south of downtown is known as the "Canyon." The section of IH 35E from the Mixmaster to SH 183 is referred to as "Lower Stemmons."
Figure 1. Project Location
The total project, scheduled for completion over 36 months, involves approximately 11 miles of roadway and over 99 existing entrance/exit ramps. Future freeway volumes range from 200,000 to 320,000 vehicles per day. The design widens both IH 30 and IH 35E and the interchange, and includes reversible HOV/Managed lanes. Among the challenges facing the project are: high traffic volumes, NAFTA-related traffic, the problem of balancing transportation needs with local access, extremely constrained right-of-way, parklands, historic buildings, meeting current design standards, potential construction impacts, affordability, and integrating urban design. The project team is currently at work on the schematics and environmental assessment, with an eye on development alternatives, traffic considerations, and extensive public and agency input.
2.2 ACTT Goals
It was TxDOT's hope that the ACTT approach could help reduce construction time while giving Dallas motorists a high-quality product. TxDOT established seven goals for ACTT Workshop participants:
2.3 Project Pegasus Objective and Goals
The primary objective of Project Pegasus is to relieve traffic congestion along IH 30, IH 35E, and throughout the Mixmaster interchange. The goals for the project include:
2.4 Proposed Improvements
The general concept is for five to six lanes in each direction with one- or two-lane reversible HOV/Managed lanes in the median. A continuous frontage road system is also proposed along portions of the route to maintain access to adjacent properties. Estimated construction and right-of-way costs are approximately $750 million, as of May 2003. The following highlights the elements of the preferred design:
2.5 Project Background
The IH 30 and IH 35E corridors were studied as part of the Major Transportation Investment Study (MTIS) conducted on the Trinity Parkway Corridor between 1996 and 1998. The purpose of the MTIS was to develop a solution to congestion in the IH 30 Canyon and IH 35E/IH 30 interchange near the Dallas Central Business District (CBD) and the Trinity River. The study - which extensively involved the public and public agencies - evaluated numerous travel modes, considered over 40 alternative approaches, and produced preliminary designs, traffic, hydraulic, and environmental analyses.
The final $1 billion recommendation included improvements to the existing interchange and interstates; HOV lanes; a new tollway; an extension to Spur 366; a light rail line; bicycle and pedestrian improvements; ITS; and employer trip reduction programs. Because no single agency would be responsible for designing and building all of the recommended improvements and many of the improvements have independent utility, they are being further developed by the appropriate agencies. Project Pegasus addresses the improvements to the Mixmaster and interstate highways, while incorporating HOV lanes, ITS, and bicycle and pedestrian elements in the corridor.
2.5.1 Project Challenges
Designed in the 1950s, IH 30 and IH 35E were built between 1958 and 1962. The current design of the freeway, service roads, ramps, and surface streets in the area contribute to the poor operation of the freeways and do not properly provide for today's major traffic demands. Forced lane changes, abrupt and unexpected merges, short weaves, and left-hand entrance/exits compound the problems. Additionally, the IH 30/IH 35E interchange does not include direct connections from eastbound IH 30 to southbound IH 35E and northbound IH 35E to westbound IH 30.
Additionally, the design standards for freeway and interstates have changed since the roadways were built. The roadways do not meet current design standards with regard to ramp acceleration and deceleration lengths, spacing of interchanges and ramps, vertical clearances, horizontal clearances, and sight distances.
Congestion in this area slows travel for many miles along other freeways feeding into downtown, such as IH 35E, IH 45, US 75, and IH 30. No significant improvements to roadway capacity have been implemented since these freeways were originally constructed. Several bottleneck removal projects have been implemented, which have provided only minor relief in traffic. The travel demand along the IH 30/IH 35E corridors is beyond the current capacity of the freeways. This is most evident in the morning and evening rush hours on weekdays, with heaviest traffic flows northbound and westbound in the morning hours, and southbound and eastbound in the evening hours. On average days, traffic on the freeways is congested for more than six hours daily, with average speeds of approximately 20 mph.
Figure 2. 2026 Daily Traffic Volumes
The redesign of IH 30 and IH 35E have provided numerous challenges to the design team, including:
Figure 3. Houston Street Viaduct
2.5.2 Public and Agency Involvement
A large component of the project is public and agency involvement. In addition to a project newsletter, a website has been developed - (http://www.projectpegasus.org/). This site has more much information than can be contained in a single newsletter, such as the project history, maps, and summaries of meetings. It also allows the design alternatives to be posted in .pdf format, thereby facilitating public review. There are also fill-in forms on the website allowing visitors to e-mail comments, be added to the mailing list, or request a presentation.
Other public/agency involvement efforts include the establishment of a Project Coordination Work Group and a Community Work Group, which both meet on a regular basis. To inform businesses and property owners, information packets have been hand-delivered to business and property owners along the corridor. A portable project kiosk has also been used at public locations within the project study area to inform the public about the project's existence, purpose, need, and progress.
2.5.3 Design Development
The development of alternatives has occurred in three phases.
The schematic design effort includes a detailed traffic analysis, signing schematic, Design Exception Report, Interstate Access Justification Report, and draft HOV/M operations plan.
2.5.4 Value Engineering
Prior to beginning the schematic design, a week-long Value Engineering workshop was held to review the project design. Value Engineering is a program to improve project quality, reduce project costs, foster innovation, eliminate unnecessary and costly design elements, and ensure efficient investments. Held in March 2003, the workshop was attended by representatives from TxDOT, FHWA, City of Dallas, Dallas County, North Texas Tollway Authority, North Central Texas Council of Governments, and Texas Transportation Institute. Sixteen geometric and 10 structural issues were analyzed. The overall design and traffic operation would be improved by the recommendations and could mean potential cost savings of 6.5 percent.
2.5.5 Environmental Documentation
Based on the schematic design, an Environmental Assessment and Section 4(f) Statement are being prepared to document social, economic, and environmental effects. Because the project corridor is heavily developed, little impact to the natural environment is anticipated. Major social, economic, and environmental issues include land use, access, park land, and historic properties. Awareness of these issues has helped the study team avoid and minimize impacts in most areas. In areas of impact, mitigation will be proposed.
2.5.6 Urban Design
The urban design component has also been initiated to enhance the transportation corridor environment from the perspectives of both motorists and the adjacent property owners. The Urban Design process involves ultimate "what if" items to be considered for future cost-shared community upgrade projects, such as signage, illumination, public art, landscaping, specialty pavement, community gateways, design of bridge structures, bridge column supports, and so forth.
In the IH 30 Canyon area, where the freeway is depressed, the concept of "lids" over the freeway to create deck parks has also been suggested. This element could be built later, after reconstruction of the freeway, but this option requires that the retaining walls be designed to support a future deck. The City of Dallas is evaluating costs and funding opportunities to finance the decks. The implementation of urban design elements will require cost sharing between the City of Dallas and TxDOT.
2.6 Project Status
Chapter 3 - TxDOT Workshop Meeting Details
TxDOT hosted an ACTT Workshop for Project Pegasus on September 9-11, 2003, in Dallas, Texas. Almost 100 people attended from 19 states, including the District of Columbia. Appendix A includes a list of the attendees.
In a pre-workshop meeting with the ACTT Management Team, TxDOT selected the following skill set areas for the Project Pegasus ACTT Workshop:
The Innovating Contracting and Innovative Finance sets were combined. A description of each of these skill sets is included in Appendix B.
3.1 Opening Session
The workshop began with opening remarks from three TxDOT officials:
Following these speakers to the podium was Don Lucas of the Heritage Group and Chair of TRB A5T60, who addressed the question: "Why ACTT? Why Now?" After Don's presentation, all workshop participants had an opportunity to introduce themselves. Attendees were next given a brief overview of Project Pegasus by Tim Nesbitt, TxDOT, Project Manager; Sandy Wesch-Schulze, Carter & Burgess, Consultant Team Project Manager, and Richard Mason, TxDOT Deputy Project Manager.
Stu Anderson, Texas A&M University, served as the workshop moderator. He reviewed the agenda and work outline for the next two days. Upon conclusion of the formal Opening Session, the forum broke for a bus tour of the project.
3.2 Workshop Process and Recommendations
In the next day-and-a-half, the Skill Set groups met to discuss various aspects of the project and methods for accelerating project implementation. After allowing time for each Skill Set group to discuss issues and begin forming ideas, participants intermingled to further discuss and consult with other groups on strategies and concepts.
Each group completed reporting forms, which are included in this report as Appendix C. Each Skill Set group was also asked to rank five to seven ideas in order of top priority, and to make a presentation to the whole conference. The following are the top recommendations relating to each Skill Set.
The Environmental Skill Set group discussed the environmental constraints, opportunities, and pending issues for the project.
Other Pending Issues
This Skill Set group made recommendations in four areas to accelerate construction while maintaining or improving the project.
The top five recommendations from the Structures Skill Set were: prepare a structure development report; call for bids on contract at 30 percent complete; use prefabricated construction; select construction techniques that minimize traffic impacts; employ temporary bridges.
Structures Development Report
Bid Contract at 30 percent Bridge Plans
The Right-of-way/Utility/Railroad Skill Set group believes the right-of-way costs were underestimated. TxDOT should assume $75 million for land, $300 million for utilities, and $15 million for railroad relocation.
It was recommended that TxDOT outsource the land acquisition, relocation assistance, and negotiation of access. Also, one utility consultant should be hired to design, inspect, coordinate, communicate, and cooperate with all utilities. The actual relocation of utilities should be included as part of the highway construction contract and the railroad force account should be used.
In order to start the right-of-way acquisition process and the relocation of utilities, the Right-of-Way Department needs as much information as soon as possible. This should include the schedule as well as the need and location of proposed staging areas (e.g., hazmat, pavement recycling, construction materials). The State currently owns property at US 75 at Carroll Avenue, which could be used as a staging area. Properties that will be difficult to relocate, such as the liquor stores and SPCA, should be acquired as early as possible. The design consultant needs to coordinate early with TxDOT and the railroads.
Other right-of-way and utility issues that should be considered during design are the inclusion of fire hydrant for CD roads and elevated roadways in case water is needed in emergency situations; control of access; 96" sewer line down median of IH 35E (north section); and utilities affected by railroad relocation. The skill set also suggested using a new technology for SUE investigation that relies on electro-resistivity to show hazmat plumes, conduits, and soil strata.
There were also other legal and procedural changes recommended to speed the process; it was recognized that some legislation might be necessary to allow these changes to happen. These recommendations included quick action, the delegation of more authority to Districts, risk management, establishment of criteria to designate when the number of utilities in the corridor had reached the allowable limit, and the consideration of utilities as part of the transportation facility.
3.2.5 Long Life Pavement Design
This Skill Set group looked at five major areas and made several recommendations to accelerate construction while maintaining or improving the design of the pavement.
Construction Staging Areas
3.2.6 Innovative Contracting/Financing
This Skill Set working group divided their discussion into five areas: financing, preconstruction, procurement options, delivery, and management.
This group did not see any major problems with the schematic design. However, to reduce cost and construction time, the group recommended that TxDOT consider the following:
Reduce Vertical Clearance
Maintenance of Traffic during Construction
The Traffic/ITS/Safety skill set identified six types of strategies to accelerate construction.
Maximize Safety throughout Project
Maintain ITS during Construction
Provide Traveler Information
Provide Coordinated Incident Management
Provide Effective Traffic Control
Manage the Demand
Construct Preparatory Projects
Maximize Contractor Control
Evaluate All Traffic Minimization Alternatives
Chapter 4 - Next Steps
TxDOT will be evaluating the recommendations from each of the Skill Sets to determine which ideas or suggestions should be adopted for use during the remainder of the planning, design, and construction phases of Project Pegasus.
Additionally, six-month and one-year meetings will be coordinated with the TxDOT to assess the long-term benefits of the workshop and the extent of the implementation of its recommendations.
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