Have you ever tackled a job just to be met with adversity and difficult challenges? We do here at TxDOT often. Most times we depend on professional contractors, inspectors, engineers and the public for input as to how to work through those challenges.
The Lufkin District was recently recognized by The Associated General Contractors of Texas (AGC) for the completion of two challenging projects, and contractors and inspectors were honored with a 2017 Project Award. The projects, US 84 in Shelby County and SH 7 in Houston County, each required some bright minds and lots of cooperation. So I hope you don’t mind if I toot our own horn just a little.
The US 84 Sabine River Bridge replacement project in Shelby County was a doozy! State and local officials had worked since the 1980’s to bring the $20.4 million project to realty and once work began, it would take more than three years to complete. The work included the demolition of a two-lane bridge built in 1936 with the implosion of underwater pillars. It was replaced by two bridges, each two lanes and running eastbound and westbound connecting Texas and Louisiana at Joaquin and Logansport. The project involved transportation officials from both states.
The challenges included the necessity to cross a sizeable river, utility issues and debris removal by barge. The public was rightfully concerned about preserving nearby historical buildings, and the morning pillars were imploded environmentalists and game wardens were on hand to count and remove marine life that were impacted. Throw in the discovery of two sunken steam ships, underground storage tanks and a busy nearby downtown area; you can understand the need for good planning and coordination on everyone’s part. Now completed, these new bridges that span the beautiful Sabine River connect two lively towns and offers economic value to both. When you visit, you can also enjoy a little local fishing in Joaquin and the historical sites in Logansport.
The SH 7 West construction project in Houston County was just as challenging. We heard from many of you who traveled this road during the more than two years of construction wondering if it would ever be completed. At times, we wondered too.
SH 7 runs from Interstate 35 to the Louisiana border for 215 miles. At the center was a 7-plus mile stretch of heavily traveled two-lane roadway in the heart of the Davy Crockett National Forest. The $10.3 million project included widening the road, adding 10-foot shoulders and alternating passing lanes. But that was the easy part.
The challenges included poor drainage and subgrade. A solid roadbed had to be established through what is known as “sugar sand” and newly discovered percolating spring water. Once excavation began, the slopes continued to reveal new veins of water that required additional work. All the while, heavy traffic was alternately switched through narrow driving lanes adjacent to workers.
Today, you can enjoy a drive through this beautiful national forest where this project greatly enhanced safety. It accommodates heavy truck traffic traveling to and from energy sectors, but from the beauty of the nearby picnic areas, those who travel it for recreation hardly notice.
The Lufkin District is appreciative of the recognition by the AGC of Texas. We are also proud of our contractors, engineers and inspectors who were recognized for their hard work. We also appreciate you for your patience as we build roads for coming generations and for allowing us to pause and toot our own horn. Because we all know that without you, there wouldn’t even be a horn to toot.
Nancy Reynolds has proudly served Angelina College since 2000. She began serving as AC’s communications coordinator in 2005. Prior to that, she was the public relations specialist.
Reynolds earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Stephen F. Austin State University. She taught speech courses as an adjunct for AC for eight years.
As communications coordinator, Reynolds’ responsibilities include the following: writing news releases, directing social media, collaborating with the marketing team, managing the Angelina College brand, coordinating publications, managing web content, coordinating internal communications and providing media training.
Reynolds lives in Lufkin with her husband Reg. They have two sons, one daughter-in-law, three grandchildren, and one cat.