By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The major road work taking place at the RM 2222 and RM 620 intersection is the final stage of the storm sewer installation for the $23.6 million RM 2222 widening project.
Texas Department of Transportation is installing the storm sewer water line earlier than anticipated because of lower traffic volume due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The storm sewer water line is being put in below the center-turn lane of RM 2222 from just east of RM 620 to west of River Place Boulevard.
“From March 26 to May 1, the project team was able to install 3,500 feet of storm sewer down RM 2222,” said Tyler Brudnick, TxDOT project manager. “This completes the run from 600 feet east of the Four Points intersection to River Place Boulevard.”
The storm sewer operation has been averaging more than 75 feet of pipe installation per day. That includes digging, grading, pipe laying, cement filling and paving the road, Brudnick said.
Crews have encountered some areas with hard rock, so they’re using a large rock saw to cut away that material, which will make it easier to dig when the pipe laying operation gets to that section, he added.
This past week from May 4 – 7, the remaining storm sewer was being installed at night through the intersection from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Much of the road was reduced to one lane so crews could work.
“Once the sewer is across RM 620, the third portion of the project will be to move up Bullick Hollow Road to the outfall,” Brudnick said.
The fourth, and final step is tying in curb inlets to the sewer trunk line so that rainwater has a place to go, he added.
The scope of the widening project includes the addition of a third lane to eastbound RM 2222 from Bonaventure Drive to Sitio Del Rio Boulevard and westbound from Ribelin Ranch Drive to the River Place Boulevard area. A center median with turn lanes will also be constructed within the project limits.
The overall project has been delayed by many months — nearly a year — from earlier projections because of the delay in getting steel utility poles.
The road work project is using a combination of funding including federal dollars. With those federal funds, the Buy American Act comes into play “requiring the United States government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases.”
“With the Buy American Act, federal dollars must be used on U.S. steel,” said Victor Vargas, TxDOT North Travis area engineer, in an earlier report. TxDOT is an advocate of Buy American but that it created delays because the steel poles took a long time to manufacture and deliver.
“It’s been our biggest hurdle… the biggest hurdle has been acquisition of those poles… new steel utility poles,” Vargas said earlier this year.
But now into May, Austin Energy has finished installing all new utility poles and is working on transferring overhead electric lines, Brudnick said.
“Once electric lines have been moved, telecommunications companies can begin to relocate their lines to the new poles,” he added.
These companies or networks are attaching to the new poles: Greater Austin Area Telecommunications Network (GAATN), Grande, Spectrum, CenturyLink and AT&T.
The other TxDOT project going on simultaneously in Four Points is the $15.8 million bypass road project which is going through open land beginning near 6715 RM 620 near BBQ Outfitters and connecting to RM 2222.
“Crews are moving dirt from the sewer line excavation on RM 2222 to use as an embankment for the bypass road,” Brudnick said.
In February, after the trees were cleared on the bypass road area, crews suspended major work on that project for some four to six months because of the dove nesting season, according to Vargas.
With utility installation continuing, the RM 2222 widening is expected to complete in mid-2021 and the bypass road is expected to complete in late 2021. The two projects have a combined price tag of $39.4 million.