NO. 2 ROAD: Transforming the Houston Metro Area

Dec. 9, 2022
The SH-99 Parkway was transformed with minimal impact to the public

The SH-99 Grand Parkway project was a $957 million project that, for segments H, I-1, and I-2 of the parkway, new design and construction segments were created. The project constructed 84 new or substantially reconstructed bridges and 53 miles of tolled highway that spanned Chambers, Harris, Liberty, and Montgomery Counties. These segments were the latest installments in the 184-mile Grand Parkway loop, providing significant beneficial impact to the region, improving safety, increasing mobility, and connecting the greater Houston Metro area.

Segments H and I-1 amounted to 37.5 miles and included the construction of two new 2-lane toll facilities, work on 70 main lane bridges, two frontage roads, tolling booths, and ramps. I-2 was divided into two segments: Segment I-2A and Segment I-2B. Both portions of Segment I-2 consisted of approximately nine miles of roadway, included construction and installation of tolling equipment upgrades, and improvements to an existing four-lane facility. It also contained 20 main lane bridges, eight turnarounds, discontinuous frontage roads, and ramps.

Considering this project had a considerable length of both urban and greenfield environments, this project had multiple challenges, especially when factoring in the scale and scope of the project. The solutions needed to address the challenges faced on a highway project required continuous teamwork and collaboration, developing solutions and innovations to manage and deliver this job in time to meet the schedule.

In order to ensure a limited impact to the traveling public, the maintenance of traffic was a challenge the project team had to overcome. The team designed traffic control plans that permitted only limited overnight closures during bridge construction. The overnight closures actively minimized impact to the traffic flow and exceeded the Texas Department of Transportation’s requirements for maintenance of traffic. 

Domingo Gonzalez, the project executive for Granite Construction said, “this 52-mile project faced many challenges including approximately 700 utility crossings, importing 8 million cubic yards of high-quality fill material for embankment, and elaborate logistical plans for access and transportation for the surrounding communities. In addition, the team faced Hurricane Harvey, which set the stage as its occurrence coincided with the project’s notice to proceed, several other named storms, supply chain issues, record rainfalls and COVID-19. These impacts required the team to develop and implement various unique solutions to allow the project to complete in a timely manner.”

The project was vast and crossed hundreds of utilities which required extensive coordination with utility owners to limit impacts. The team was successful in designing and phasing the project to reduce the impacts which included an accepted Alternative Technical Concept (ATC) or realigning certain roadways and ramps to eliminate the need to relocate existing facilities such as CenterPoint Energy transmission towers and Crown Castel communications towers.

In the design-build phase, Granite Construction developed multiple ATCs that resulted in improved project design and savings for the owners. The ATCs included recycling of pavement by re-using demolished concrete for base, sub-base, and fill material which reduced cost and enhanced the sustainability of the project. The widening of the Goose Lake bridges to the inside reduced the wetland impact, reduced the amount of retaining wall, and eliminated impacts to the existing marine electrical lighting systems.

Two ramps over the Bid Ditch Canal had to be replaced, with multiple barrel culverts while maintaining the capacity of the canal. This provided a safer connection at the interchange, eliminated the need for retaining walls, reduced future bridge maintenance costs, and improved constructibility. Replacing bridges for the eastbound and westbound main lanes at drainage crossing number 28 with box culverts assisted in meeting the Texas Department of Transportation’s goal of reducing future construction costs. It also eliminated bridge maintenance at that location, and efficiently used available funds to maximize the scope of the project.

Despite the challenges the project team faced on this grand project, they completed it on time. R&B

Project: SH-99 Grand Parkway Segments H & I-2

Location: Houston, Texas

Owners: Grand Parkway Transportation Corporation

Designer: Bowman Consulting; Othon, Inc.

Contractor: Grand Parkway Infrastructure JV (Granite Construction; Ferrovial Construction; Webber LLC)

Cost: $957,257,188

Length: 53 miles

Completion Date: May 18, 2022

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