The $416-million President George Bush Turnpike - Western Extension is the North Texas Tollway Authority's first design-build project. AECOM designed the new eight-lane configuration. Two major interchanges were constructed where the extension connects with I-20 and I-30. The project also features 44 bridges and nearly a million sq ft of retaining wall.

Photo courtesy of Prairie Link Constructors
Interstate 20 Interchange looking north.
Photo courtesy of Prairie Link Constructors
Interstate 30 Interchange looking north west.

Prairie Link Constructors (PLC), a joint venture of Fluor Enterprises Inc. and Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc., led construction on an aggressive schedule that required completion in just 32 months.

The PLC team also finished work under budget with an outstanding safety record of more than 3.5-million man-hours worked with no lost-time accidents.

Right-of-way (ROW) constraints that surfaced after the contract award led to a complete redesign of three direct connectors in the southeast, northeast and northwest quadrants of the I-30 interchange. Securing additional ROWs was not an option. All three segments were realigned horizontally and vertically within project criteria and without design exceptions. Two of the three roads were built below grade and required large-diameter (120-in.) drilled-shaft retaining walls.

A collaborative technical work group made up of experts from the NTTA and its advisers, PLC construction staff and the PLC engineering team worked through an iterative process to create innovative cut-and-cover construction techniques.

It minimized impacts to adjacent property owners and stayed within the commitments made in the environmental documents. This carefully designed interchange configuration maximized the smaller ROW envelope and could be constructed efficiently without significant additional project cost.

PLC employed several project-based incentives and awards to deliver on time and on budget. A craft-based award system included all field personnel. It was based on several performance metrics, including tool-box meeting participation, incident statistics, hazard elimination, document accuracy and timeliness, and milestone achievements related to safe work hours.

An outreach program was also put in place on the project to ensure that local minority, women-owned and small businesses were fully involved in project opportunities. PLC held multiple outreach events to educate local contractors about the project and upcoming construction packages.

PLC was also the first prime contractor to participate in NTTA's new Relationships and Opportunities Advancing Diversity (ROAD) program. It was established to promote relationships between prime contractors and consultants and to foster opportunities for disadvantaged enterprises to participate in large contracts with the NTTA.

Since this was the tollway authority's first design-build project, the D-B process had to be refined and streamlined on all sides as the project evolved, says Scott Yardas, PLC project director, and Brian Dodson, AECOM design manager. The project team helped the NTTA go from an initial position of uncertainty to completely embracing the new delivery method by the time the project was completed, team officials say.

Key Players

Owner North Texas Tollway Authority, Plano, Texas

General Contractor Prairie Link Constructors, a joint venture of Fluor Enterprises Inc. and Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc., Dallas

Lead Design AECOM, Austin, Texas