Work is fully underway on an ambitious $798 million project that will transform interstate traffic through downtown Dallas. When completed in 2017, the Horseshoe Project will revitalize the I-30 and I-35 corridors through the city while replacing the series of bridges that carry traffic across the Trinity River.

Courtesy of the Texas Dept. of Transportation
An aerial view of the $798 million Horseshoe Project in Dallas.

The project is dubbed the “Horseshoe” due to its U-shaped configuration around the city's central downtown, a section currently referred to as the “Mixmaster.”

Pegasus Link Constructors LLC, a consortium comprised of Fluor Enterprises and Balfour Beatty, won the contract to construct the project and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in April. In recent weeks, work outside of the main roadways such as bridge preparation and frontage roads has gained traction.

“As we are advancing design and utility relocations, construction initially has been focused on developing all weather construction access into and across the Trinity River Levee system," says Project Director Bob Stevens.  "We are now progressing construction into locations that are becoming more visible to the traveling public."

The strategy is an "outside-in" approach, he explained, where portions outside the existing roadway footprint are constructed and, when complete, traffic will be moved onto it in order to remove the existing infrastruture.

To pay for the project, the Texas Dept. of Transportation opted for a design-build structure that was approved by the legislature in 2011. Proposition 12 funds were also utilized for the financing of the effort.

The work will involve and upgrade to the I-30 bridge as well as both the north and southbound sections of the I-35E bridges across the Trinity River. Five miles of highway and frontage road that curve around the central downtown area will be rebuilt to improve capacity.

Two major factors have prompted a need for the upgrade, increased traffic on the highways around Dallas' downtown and deterioration of bridges over the Trinity River. Most of the major roads around Dallas' central downtown area were constructed prior to the mid-1960s. Today this corridor can see more than 450,000 vehicles on a single weekday.

Several of the bridges spanning the Trinity River near the downtown area date as far as the 1930s. According to TxDOT, maintenance costs for these structures has skyrocketed as usage has steadily grown.