General contractor Jordan Foster Construction will break ground on a $60 million reconstruction project next month on SH 130 to fix pavement problems and improve ride quality along the 41-mile roadway.

“We’ve been seeing heaves in the roadway and some pretty significant cracking in the surface,” notes Andy Bailey, CEO of SH 130 Concession Co., which just emerged from bankruptcy in June.

Previous repairs did not take, so last year the company hired a geotech firm, Rone Engineering Services Ltd. of Dallas, to do extensive borings along the roadway to see exactly what was causing the issues, Bailey explains.

Rone’s consultants discovered two issues: one was the presence of deep-seated expansive clays, which are causing swelling and cracking along the roadway surface, and the second was the presence of crystal-forming chemicals in the soil such as sulfur, lime and others, which are causing bumps in parts of the roadway.

Repairs will take place at 38 locations on both mainline and frontage roads, which together make up less than 5% of SH 130’s total roadway area, Bailey says.

The roadway will be repaired and rebuilt in phases, and will remain open throughout construction.

“When we emerged from bankruptcy, the new owners obtained a credit facility for us of $260 million. Over $60 million of that credit facility was dedicated to fixing the road, so the money is all coming from the company and its creditors, there’s no public money involved at all in this reconstruction effort,” Bailey says.

The southern section of SH 130 opened in late 2012. Under the original design-build contract, the original contractor was responsible for soil analysis, design and construction of the roadway, but it’s unclear why these issues are now presenting themselves just five years after construction.

Under the repair and reconstruction plan reviewed and approved by the Texas Dept. of Transportation, the contractor will remove 4-8 ft of underlying soils in the most severely impacted areas, replacing it with moisture treated subgrade that will act as a cushion and will keep the pavement from heaving before repaving the road. Meanwhile, in areas that have been less impacted to date but are still considered at risk for future problems, the contractor will install moisture membranes along the edge of the pavement to move moisture away from the roadway.

SH 130 chose a modified project delivery for this repair job, Bailey explains.

“We designed it, and we brought in a consultant to do the geotech and someone to do the civil engineering, but last June, we started reaching out to the construction community around central Texas to identify 10-15 contractors to come and look at our work and talk to us about how we put out the contract,” he says.

After SH 130 Concession Co. emerged from bankruptcy at the end of June, the firm put out the contract with full design in hand, and “rather than doing a low bid, we did a modified best value, because we have a very strong sense of urgency, quality and safety that’s driving us,” Bailey says.

During discussions with contractors, the SH 130 team invited them to pursue and propose alternatives, discuss alternative technical concepts and provided the top three contractors an opportunity to present a final proposal. Jordan Foster was selected through that process.

“It was a little different than a typical highway department design-bid-build or even a design-build,” Bailey says.

Documents were all signed on Friday, and preconstruction efforts are moving forward. The contractor will be leasing property along the roadway to set up areas where soil treatment can take place, Bailey says.

Work is anticipated to take 12 months, with substantial completion toward the middle or end of October 2018.