In an effort to expedite completion of the much-anticipated State Highway 161 project, in Dallas County, the North Texas Tollway Authority Board of Directors approved its largest single contract to date, a $414-million design-build project.
The NTTA is using design-build for the development of State Highway 161, phase four.
The NTTA is using design-build for the development of State Highway 161, phase four.

PrairieLink Constructors, a joint venture of Irving-based Fluor EPCM Services and Atlanta-based Balfour Beatty Construction, will build phase four of the project.

The original estimate for the project was $610 million, according to the NTTA.

“We chose design-build because it would greatly speed up completion of the project,” Susan Slupecki, spokesperson for NTTA, told Texas Construction. “Since the (Texas Dept. of Transportation) has already completed so much of the road – Phases 1, 2 and almost 3 – NTTA wanted to be able to begin construction as soon as possible. Design-build allows those two things to occur nearly simultaneously. There are secondary factors, too, such as limiting the risk and saving some costs.”

Prairie Link Constructors is a 60:40 percent joint venture led by Irving-based Fluor with Atlanta-based Balfour Beatty Infrastructure. The team will include Fort Worth-based AECOM (lead design), Richardson-based Halff Associates (drainage design) and Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based PSI (independent quality assurance/control).

Phase four includes construction of approximately 6.5 mi from North Carrier Parkway to IH-20 with two major interchanges at IH-30 and IH-20 and two main lanes in each direction. Additionally, there will be one mainlane gantry and 10 ramp gantries scheduled for completion by September 2012.

NTP for the design work was issued Nov. 10. The notice to proceed for the UPRR work is pending an agreement between NTTA, TxDOT, UPRR and Grand Prairie. Start date is undetermined. Railroad construction activities will occur between Main Street and Jefferson Street, where the project crosses the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. In the spring, construction activities may begin around IH-30.

In the meantime, the NTTA will work to obtain bond financing and pay TxDOT its upfront payment, according to the agency.

The first segment of the SH 161 project is substantially complete and open to traffic. The TxDOT-funded project includes the mainlane interchange at SH 183 and service roads from North Carrier Parkway to IH-20. The second phase was built by TxDOT with toll gantries constructed by the NTTA. It includes the northbound main lanes and frontage roads from SH 183 to North Carrier Parkway. It opened to traffic Aug. 2.

Phase three is currently under construction on the remaining portions of service roads and portions of southbound main lanes, which will open fourth quarter 2010.