Monday, December 6, 2021
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Council report: Despite delays, Altamesa road project moves along

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High groundwater levels and contaminated soil have been a roadblock to the expansion of Altamesa Boulevard, but the city and construction contractor Austin Bridge & Road reached an agreement that they hope will keep the project moving forward.

The Fort Worth City Council approved a settlement of more than $690,000 with Austin Bridge & Road to pay for the costs that came from unexpected delays to the project. The settlement also extends the project’s completion deadline, adding 165 workdays to the contract. Construction is now expected to finish in June.

The $27.3 million project involves expanding Altamesa Boulevard from two lanes to six lanes. The project also involves the reconstruction of the railroad bridge so that it better accommodates the height of the vehicles traveling beneath it. The first phase, which extended from Bryant Irvin Road to Chisholm Trail Parkway, was completed in 2007. The second phase, which began April 2014, extends from Chisholm Trail Parkway to Granbury Road.

“This is a longstanding project,” councilman Jungus Jordan said. “I think every imaginable thing that could go wrong has gone wrong.”

The two factors that delayed the project appeared during the early stages of construction. During excavation for the bridge, Austin Bridge & Road ran into unusually high groundwater levels, prompting the city and its engineer to come up with strategies to help the contractor manage the groundwater. The contractor also discovered that some of the soil within the construction site was contaminated, so some of the work had to be stopped in order to test the soil and come up with solutions to deal with the issue.

Along with reaching a settlement for the delays, the city council also executed a $10,000 agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to inspect and test materials like structural steel bridge components, concrete products and other items manufactured off-site.

The city is also increasing its contract amount with Austin Bridge & Road for the second phase of construction. The Phase 2 contract is now $11.4 million, up from its previous amount of $10.7 million. The raise covers improvements to the temporary railroad line that was put in place while the existing railroad bridge is under construction. The amount also covers tests for hazardous chemicals within the railroad right-of-way, which showed higher levels of arsenic, lead and selenium during construction.

Contractor chosen for Nature Center boardwalk renovation

The Fain Group will head the boardwalk renovation project at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Wildlife Refuge, 9601 Fossil Ridge Road, as city council approved a $1.2 million contract with the Fort Worth-based contractor.

The boardwalk is currently closed to the public due to the June and November floods that damaged the aging wood. The overall cost of renovating the boardwalk is $1.4 million. Construction is slated to begin in February and finish in September.

Some of the project’s funding also comes from the Friends of the Nature Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Fort Worth Nature Center and Wildlife Refuge. The organization is donating $139,147.

“Without a boardwalk, it takes one major part of the experience away because it’s probably the most visited, used part of the facility that we have,” said Marty Leonard, president of Friends of the Nature Center. “We are very grateful and appreciative and anxious to get started.”

GE Manufacturing receives approval for change to city agreement

GE Manufacturing Solutions will no longer be required to employ a minimum number of Fort Worth and Central City residents in order to receive bonus grants from the city.

City council approved a change to its economic development agreement with GE, which has locomotive and mining equipment manufacturing facilities at 16201 Three Wide Drive and 16202 Three Wide Drive. Previously, GE could receive bonus grants from the city if the company created at least 600 jobs at the facilities, with 30 percent of those employees being Fort Worth residents and 10 percent of those employees being Central City residents.

With the revised agreement, GE can receive bonus grants simply by meeting the minimum job requirement. GE will still need to meet the Fort Worth and Central City employment requirements, but not to receive the grants.

The agreement revision is meant to help GE invest $13.6 million in improvements to its locomotive facility, as well as finish construction on a rail test track, according to a city staff report.

The change also adds five more years to the term agreement.

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