Seventy inches of rain in nine months is a deluge, even in East Texas. Factor in unusual drought conditions over the past few years and all that precipitation was potentially overwhelming for Sundt’s US 175 transportation project in Henderson.
“Far and away the biggest challenge has been the weather,” said Project Manager Chris Leintz. “With the project being about 4.5 miles of extensive dirt work and drainage improvements, this caused a lot of down time, and we spent a lot of time and money either preparing for or recovering from significant rain events.”
With the impacts caused by the excessive rain, our team realized it needed to take advantage of drier weather in the early fall to move the majority of the dirt. We decided to double-shift our mass dirt operations in order to get back on schedule.
That solution came with a few challenges. Our company and the Texas Department of Transportation had significant concerns about the safety of our employee-owners and the travelling public with more night work. There were also considerations about upsetting the local community with noise and light.
To overcome those issues, the team developed a plan to run back-to-back shifts from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., only working adjacent to homes during the day. A shift normally runs from around 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We have been able to keep from upsetting our neighbors and provide a safer atmosphere for our employees and the travelling public by reducing the number of hours we worked in the dark,” Chris said. “The unexpected bonus was most of our employees were as happy or happier with their shift times because they could either leave earlier or sleep in later.”
The project covers approximately 4.5 miles and involves widening an existing two-lane undivided highway to a four-lane divided highway. The work includes a 1.5 million cubic yard embankment, subbase, base and asphalt paving, four bridges and drainage improvements.
We are anticipating finishing the first phase, the majority of the project, in the spring. Final completion is scheduled for September, which would be 10 months ahead of schedule.