Contact: Sonja Gross
Phone: (806) 570-6301
Date: April 1, 2021
AMARILLO – National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 26 – 30, 2021) is less than a month away, but work zone awareness has been top-of-mind for Amarillo-area motorists since work to develop the State Loop (SL) 335 corridor and reconstruction of aging bridges along I-40 began a few years ago. That construction continues at a steady pace throughout Amarillo. For area motorists, there is hope at the end of the road – with the first glimmer of it on the east side of Interstate 40.
“Our goal is to have the three remaining bridge reconstruction projects on the east side of town completed and open to motorists by year’s end,” says Corky Neukam, Amarillo area engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation’s Amarillo District, which covers the top 17 counties of the Texas panhandle. “That will be a major step forward on the eastern portion of I-40 and we’re looking forward to eventually opening all of I-40 back up to normal traffic.”
I-40: Whitaker, Lakeside and Pullman Bridges
This project, which began in April 2018, is designed to improve traffic operations, mobility, and safety along a 4.26 mile portion of the I-40 corridor. In addition to removing and replacing six bridges located at Whitaker Road, SL 335 (Lakeside Drive) and FM 1258 (Pullman Road), other improvements include overlay work on the interstate’s eastbound and westbound main lanes from Nelson Street to the US 287 split, reversal of the westbound ramps between Spur 468 (Airport Drive/Juett Attebury Drive) and Whitaker Road, and profile modifications of the remaining ramps.
“At Pullman Road, we’ve completed the east- and westbound bridges and are currently placing the center median concrete barrier,” Neukam says. “We expect to finish striping in the days ahead and remove the work zone traffic control from Airport Boulevard to the US 287 split before the end of April.”
While Neukam adds that this will be a major step forward on this project, concrete approaches and various tie-in work to the frontage roads remain to be done. On the eastbound side of I-40, crews are currently setting beams at Whitaker Road and Lakeside Drive and building the retaining wall at Whitaker Road.
This $50.4 million project to replace all six bridges on the east side of I-40 at Whitaker Road, Lakeside Drive, and Pullman Road is slated for completion by the end of 2021. The contractor for this project is J. Lee Milligan, Inc.
FM 1541 (Washington Street) and SL 335 Repair and Overlay Work SL 335 Corridor Development
Within the last few weeks, crews have completed mill and fill repair operations on Washington Street, from the southern portion of SL 335 north to I-27. Due to recent winter weather events, overlay work will not begin until April. In addition to restoring the Washington Street roadway, overlay work is also planned for the eastern portion of the Loop from I-40 to State Highway (SH) 136. Completion is planned for mid-summer. The contractor on this $10.7 million project is RK Hall, LLC.
SL 335 Corridor Development
Four large construction projects are currently underway in the southwestern portion of SL 335, all part of TxDOT’s overall goal to upgrade the Loop to a controlled access freeway facility with frontage roads. Known as Segment B, these projects encompass approximately 9.9 miles of improvements, including the relocation of the Loop one mile west – off Soncy Road to Helium Road.
Each phase of the entire Loop project has let separately and awarded to the low bidder. To date, Allen Butler Construction has been awarded each contract.
B1 Phase 1
At this $42.4 million project at I-27 and SL 335, the contractor is currently working on the northwest and southwest frontage roads and turn lanes. This includes connecting access points from the frontage roads to the interstate and the Texas turnarounds under the I-27 bridges. Neukam says work under the I-27 bridges (the turnarounds) and outside the bridge (frontage roads, ramps, and tie-ins), take time, but this particular project is on track to finish and fully open to traffic by the fourth quarter of this year.
Moving west to Coulter Street, construction of the overpass and frontage roads continues. The bridge deck is expected to be placed in June with this portion of the project also on track to open to the public by the fourth quarter of this year.
B1 Phase 2
At the beginning of March, this $26 million project was let, which will connect Coulter Street to the new frontage road across FM 2590 (VFW Road), with work beginning on the playa lake.
“We’re excavating that playa lake to add capacity for drainage,” Neukam says. “The late winter and early spring moisture, while welcomed, has had an impact – slowing the process. Dirt work is slow and not glamourous, but necessary.”
As work and the playa lake and overpass continues, traffic will eventually be impacted so be mindful of posted work zones and detours. This project is expected to finish by late 2023.
B2 Phase 1
The $45.8 million project from FM 2186 (Hollywood Road) to I-40 also is an active construction zone with several moving pieces, which necessitated the closure of Helium Road between those two points. While work on the northbound frontage road is mostly complete, crews are now tasked with tying FM 2186 in as the extension of the Loop west to Helium Road. Crews are also working on tying in 34th Avenue to the northbound frontage road. After some final paving work, Helium Road from FM 2186 to 34th Avenue is expected to open to traffic by mid-summer of 2021.
Connecting Arden Road to Helium Road and tying in Hillside Road are two other important steps in the Loop’s relocation. This includes getting the frontage roads and turnarounds to a point to where it can be paved this hot mix season so it can be ready for the new high school set to open in fall of 2022.
On the southbound side, crews are currently working on the drainage system before the road can be constructed. Segment B2 Phase 1 is scheduled for completion by August 2022.
B2 Phase 2
This $50 million project is another active construction zone, which includes construction of a second level I-40 bridge at SL 335, frontage north- and southbound frontage roads from I-40 to SW 9th Avenue, and drainage improvements. The westbound I-40 bridge is scheduled to be poured in May.
“We’ve completed the concrete paving between I-40 and Amarillo Boulevard and we’ve been doing a lot of work at the NW 9th Avenue intersection to tie all the pieces into the northwest portion of the Loop,” Neukam says.
Traffic on I-40 will be switched the new westbound bridge by late summer 2021 and crews will then work on the eastbound bridge and roadway. I-40 is expected to fully open to traffic by spring of 2022.
I-40 Bridge Rehabilitation Projects
This project rehabs the Georgia Street, Paramount Boulevard, Western Street and Coulter Street bridges. Crews recently finished placing the new bridge deck at Western Street. On I-40, traffic will be reduced to two lanes in each direction while crews work on the Georgia Street and Paramount Boulevard overpasses. Traffic Control will be set up the week of April 8 and is expected to continue for at least three months.
Gibson & Associates, Inc. is the contractor on this $15.8 million project, which, in addition to the bridge deck replacements, includes bridge repairs, metal beam guardrails and striping.
I-27 from Western Street to US 60 Split in Canyon
This $6.3 million project, awarded to J. Lee Milligan, will consist of overlay work, median cable and concrete barrier upgrades, signage, striping, rumble strips and more for 8.5 miles from just southeast of US 60 in Canyon north to Western Street.
The unique aspect of this project is that the paving work will take place overnight, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting in late May and continuing through the end of July of this year.
“While paving will take place overnight, the cable barrier installation will be day work so motorists can expect to see a lot of activity in the center median,” Neukam says.
I-27/I-40 Downtown Interchange
Crews are upgrading the concrete barrier wall throughout the entire interchange, with work currently taking place where I-27 southbound connects motorists to I-40 eastbound. That ramp is currently closed and traffic is detoured to Washington Street, where motorists can take the turnaround to gain access to I-40 eastbound. This closure will be in place through the end of April.
The current schedule has work progressing through the downtown interchange as follows:
April 28 – June 8, 2021
I-27 northbound to I-40 westbound ramp closure
May 5 – 14, 2021
I-27 southbound from downtown to the I-40 westbound ramp closure
May 17 – June 16, 2021
I-27 northbound to Buchanan Street lane closure
I-40 westbound to I-27 northbound ramp closure
June 30 – July 6, 2021
I-40 eastbound to I-27 southbound ramp closure
July 20 – Aug. 16, 2021
I-40 eastbound to I-27 northbound ramp closure
Aug. 17 – Sept. 9, 2021
I-27 northbound to I-40 eastbound ramp closure
Oct. 18 – Nov. 29, 2021
I-40 westbound to the I-27 southbound ramp closure
Gilvin-Terrill, Ltd. is the contractor on this $4.5 million project.
In all, there are currently 17 construction projects being managed by the Amarillo Area Engineer’s Office totaling $289,684,784.
This month, an operational improvements project will let for I-27, from 45th Avenue north to the downtown interchange. It will include upgrading the traffic barrier, guardrail, pavement markings and lighting.
Also slated for the second quarter of this year is work on US 60 from FM 2590 to FM 1062 in Canyon. This will include improving the crossovers and adding left lane acceleration and deceleration lanes.
“We’re excited about the improvements being made in Amarillo and especially look forward to completing the bridges on the east side of I-40,” Neukam says. “But because there are so many active construction zones throughout the city, we appreciate the traveling public’s continued patience as we work hard to push these projects forward and remind them to slow down in these construction zones – slow down as if your loved one is working on that project.”
Neukam adds that visiting DriveTexas before traveling is the best way to know if construction will impact your travel plans.
The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, maritime, rail, and public transportation across the state. Through collaboration and leadership, we deliver a safe, reliable, and integrated transportation system that enables the movement of people and goods. Find out more at TxDOT.gov. "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.