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Construction in Fort Worth continues to gain momentum, according to a Dallas firm that’s the latest to marvel at Cowtown’s post-recession comeback. “Construction is way up. There’s tons of activity,” said Kyle Masters, director of business development with McCarthy Building Companies Inc. This year alone the Dallas firm has overseen the Hemphill Street Connector and improvements to the city’s Village Creek wastewater plant. McCarthy serves as construction manager-at-risk for the projects, which are projected to exceed $41 million in construction costs. The Hemphill Street work is expected to provide a safe pedestrian area and improved traffic flow along Hemphill between downtown and the city’s medical district.
Specifically, the project involves building a road and pedestrian pathway tunnel beneath Interstate 30 and a new rail bridge supporting four existing Union Pacific rail lines. The project will extend from Hemphill Street north of Vickery Boulevard using a tunnel. Plans call for a four-lane arterial street comprising 12-foot lanes, a railroad bridge, retaining walls, streetlights and traffic signals. The project was originally budgeted at $12 million but likely will rise, Masters said. “The economy is better than when the city got the $12 million hard-bid number. With the better economy, contractors are busy and vendors are selling more of their products like reinforcement steel. We’re seeing more activity wherever we look,” Masters said. Construction is expected to begin in early 2015. Until then, fence and utility relocation keeps McCarthy busy, as does its role as construction manager- at-risk.
Instead of the design-bid-build process that’s guided many projects in the past – and continues among many municipalities – the construction-manager-at-risk approach allows quicker project completion and some, including Masters, believe that it ensures that the best construction managers are hired because they are chosen based not on project bids but on qualifications. “It allows us to get on board and work with the owner and designer and be responsible for delivering a project on a scheduled basis and cost basis. We are under the gun to deliver,” Masters said. The Hemphill project is expected to be completed by July 2016. Meanwhile, the Village Creek Peak Flow Storage project, originally budgeted at $29 million, includes three large earthen and concrete-lined storage basins, a 7,000-linear-foot, large-diameter pipeline and modifications to a junction structure and pump station at the city’s largest wastewater plant in north Arlington. Fort Worth’s master plan includes recommendations to build the storage system to meet increasing two-hour peak flow rates at the plant before 2016. Neither the project budget nor start and completion dates for construction have been confirmed, but the work will take about 18 months, Masters said.
“The city wants $30 million or below [as the] guaranteed maximum price,” Masters said. Until submitting a project estimate, McCarthy continues laying the groundwork by relocating fencing and utilities. Masters cites Fort Worth as ahead of many municipalities in both the construction-manager-at-risk approach and construction activity. The general contractor firm of Muckleroy & Falls in Fort Worth also noticed an increase in projects since the recession. “Things have turned around since the recession,” Harold Muckleroy, founding partner and CEO of Muckleroy & Falls, said in October. Among his firm’s projects this year are a 25,000-square-foot integration lab for BAE Systems at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, a 39,707-square-foot shelter at Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County and a youth worship area at McKinney Bible Church. “We had such a long recession from roughly 2009 through 2012, and we started coming out of it in 2013,” Muckleroy said. “There’s just some pent-up demand. The state of Texas has got a reputation for favoring business, and I think there’s a lot of growth coming that way,” Muckleroy said.