By Larry Briscoe
Work began this week on the largest project in history for the Paris district of Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
The new Two-Mile Bridge was bid at $47.85 million to Williams Brothers Construction Company of Houston and is the largest job ever undertaken by this highway district, according to Assistant TxDOT Area Engineer at Greenville Chris Mountain. The previous record was a Highway 83 project in Grayson County.
TxDOT Area Engineer Tammy Sims said the 80-foot wide bridge would have four 12-foot lanes, two 10-foot shoulders on the outside lanes and four-foot shoulders on the inside lanes. A concrete barrier would separate westbound and eastbound lanes.
Mountain said the bridge specifications match the ultimate construction of State Highway 276 when it would be expanded to four lanes sometime in the future. He noted the bridge life was expected to exceed 50 years, similar to the present bridge that was built in the mid 1950s.
Sims said the bridge would be constructed in five phases. The access road would be included in Phase 1 beginning on the West Tawakoni side. This phase would later include drill shafts, columns, caps, bents, beams and slabs.
Looking at the project’s first schedule of work, Sims said the dates would change throughout the life of the project as necessitated by weather and other factors.
Mountain said traffic would be diverted to the new bridge in June 2014. The project end is scheduled in May 2015 after the old bridge is completely removed and the old approaches removed.
Sims said the new bridge would be built immediately north of and parallel to the existing bridge.
The closing of the boat ramp on the East Tawakoni side has been rescheduled to Oct. 23. The boat ramp on the West Tawakoni side is to remain open.
A TxDOT construction headquarters building in West Tawakoni was built this week on Sabine River Authority land near the lake on the north side of State Highway 276.
Williams Brothers Construction Company has leased land from the City of East Tawakoni on State Highway 276 for locating its construction headquarters during the life of the project.
Sims said efforts were underway by some citizens to keep the old bridge. In order to keep the bridge, she said the Corps of Engineers would have to approve and someone or some organization would have to take on its liability. For it to meet standards for bridges, she said $3 million in work would have to be completed on it.
Sims said her department was doing everything possible to help those wanting to save the bridge. Highway officials would probably want the center portion removed anyway, she said, primarily for navigation purposes. The new bridge is to be eight feet taller than the existing bridge, and Sims said the column placement would not match between the two bridges. She pointed out the problem that would be for boats moving under the bridge.
Work Starts On New Two-Mile Bridge
By Larry Briscoe