By Larry Briscoe
Rudolf should be able to guide Santa Claus and his sleigh across Lake Tawakoni on a brand new four-lane bridge — two years from now, that is.
That is the latest completion date for the new Two-Mile Bridge under construction across Lake Tawakoni, according to Becky Ozuna, media relations for Texas Department of Transportation.
“The current anticipated completion date is December 2015,” Ozuna said. “The contractor is currently 6.8 months behind schedule due primarily to weather conditions on the lake.”
Contractor Williams Brothers Construction of Houston is currently working on drilled shafts, the steel casings that can be seen sticking out of the water.
“This puts us at 47 percent complete on drilled shafts,” Ozuna said of the approximately 400 columns needed for the bridge. The casings are hammered far enough down to reach bearing shale, material is pumped out, steel is tied inside the shafts, and concrete is then poured.
“They are also working on constructing the bent caps. We are only about 10 percent complete on this item,” she said.
The caps tie five casings in a row together to form a bent. Ozuna said, “The contractor had the option of trucking in prefabricated caps but chose to cast in place, because they are about 78 feet long and would be very hard to transport.”
Once the bent caps are all in place, beams will be placed on top of them to span about 120 feet, followed by the pouring of the concrete deck.
Work began Sept. 25, 2012, on the project. The Williams Brothers company submitted the winning bid at $47,845,878.71. The work was allotted 671 days for completion.
According to TxDOT figures from earlier this month, 261 of those days had been charged to complete 38.94 percent of the project by using 38.90 percent of the time needed.
The bridge is the largest job ever undertaken by the Paris highway district. The previous record was a Highway 83 project in Grayson County.
The 80-foot wide bridge is to feature four 12-foot lanes, two 10-foot shoulders on the outside lanes and four-foot shoulders on the inside lanes. A concrete barrier is to separate westbound and eastbound lanes.
The bridge specifications are designed to match the ultimate construction of State Highway 276 when it would be expanded to four lanes sometime in the future. The bridge life is expected to exceed 50 years, similar to the present bridge that was built in the mid 1950s.