ZCC Rebuilds One of Texas's Steepest Grades
May 22, 2018
A six percent grade – one of the steepest in the Texas interstate system – combined with a sharp curve and an increasing volume of trucks and other traffic created significant issues along three miles of I-20 at Ranger Hill in Eastland County, Texas. Although the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) made several safety enhancements in recent years, the roadway still didn’t meet current design and safety standards.
“It’s been a problem for years, so with the support of state and local elected officials, we had begun preliminary realignment design, looking at alternatives and getting estimates,” said Jason Scantling, Director of Transportation and Development for TxDOT’s Brownwood District. “When we unfortunately had a couple of severe accidents at the location, it escalated the need. In late 2014, TxDOT administration gave us two years to get the project let. That included right-of-way acquisition, utilities adjustments, plans, schematics, and environmental clearance. A normal timeline for a project like this would be closer to five years. The passage of Proposition 1 in 2014 and Proposition 7 in 2015 really helped get this project funded, as well.”
Financed with a combination of federal Highway Safety Improvement Program and Texas Statewide Connectivity funds, the project will realign and rebuild I-20 to improve safety and mobility. General Contractor Zachry Construction Corporation, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, will reduce the grade to 3.5 percent, straighten the curve, add an additional climbing lane for slower vehicles, increase shoulder widths to allow refuge for stranded or stalled vehicles, and add frontage roads on both sides to assist first responders and minimize traffic backups when incidents occur.
Despite environmental delays, huge excavation cuts, and significant earthwork for embankments of almost 60 feet, close coordination and planning have kept the $76 million, three-year project on schedule for completion in summer 2020.