A $1.6-billion project to revitalize the convergence of three major highways in Southern Tarrant County has been awarded to a joint-venture partnership of Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. and Austin Bridge & Road.

The Texas Dept. of Transportation (TxDOT) tapped joint venture South-Point Constructors for the design build and maintenance contracts in November and the contract was signed earlier this year. The project, known as the Southeast Connector, is slated for completion in 2027. It represents the largest investment in transportation infrastructure in the history of TxDOT’s Fort Worth district.

“Our team’s extensive infrastructure experience in design-build highway work – and long-time partnership with TxDOT – create a strong foundation to manage the design and construction of the job,” says South-Point Constructors Project Director Jay Knez.

The Southeast Connector project will involve rebuilding and widening approximately 16 miles of three major highways that converge in southern Tarrant County; I-20, I-820 and US 287. It will also require reconstructing three major highway interchanges. In addition to the increased number of main lanes that are planned, frontage roads along the corridor will be improved while entrance and exit ramps will be reconfigured to improve traffic flow and safety. Bicycle and pedestrian accommodations will be introduced as well.

Lake Arlington is partly to blame for this peculiar configuration of the three highways. This 2,000-acre body of water was created in the 1950s to provide drinking water for the region. Over the next several decades, highway upgrades needed to match the growing population only saw the interconnections became more complex. Today, more than 250,000 vehicles use the corridor each day.

“This highly anticipated project will tie in the east and southeast part of Tarrant County to the central part of the county while relieving congestion,” says TxDOT spokesperson Val Lopez. “It’s not only important for Tarrant County and Fort Worth, but also facilitates trade, increases safety and improves efficiency for the entire Metroplex.”

The Texas Transportation Commission has designated the Southeast Connector project as part of the statewide Texas Clear Lanes initiative, a program to address the most congested chokepoints in the state by financing needed improvements and upgrades.

TxDOT initially set the project to bid in late 2020 and three joint-ventures responded: North Tarrant Infrastructure Southeast, South-Point Constructors and Tarrant Mobility Partners. All three proposals were significantly over the amount of public funds available for the project. The agency then issued a revised RFP in September 2021 and received offers from all the joint-venture teams that had previously submitted bids.

In additional to being the lead joint-venture firm, Kiewit will serve as the design-build integrator and lead maintenance firm. Other major members of the joint venture include lead engineering firm AECOM Technical Services Inc. and lead independent quality firm Lamb-Star Engineering LLC.

“We look forward to supporting the team with our extensive local expertise and global reach in producing high-quality solutions for transportation clients,” says Jennifer Aument, chief executive of AECOM’s global Transportation business.