Michael Baker International to help TxDOT reduce congestion

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Pittsburgh-based planning and engineering consultancy Michael Baker International (MBI) has been awarded a US$6.1m contract by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to help reduce congestion along a major Dallas freeway.

MBI has been hired to provide Construction Engineering and Inspection (CEI) services for TxDOT’s Lowest Stemmons Freeway project, which is designed to reduce congestion, improve mobility, and deliver more reliable travel times along a 2.3 mile-long (3.7km) stretch of Interstate-35E (I-35E) that runs from Interstate-30 to north of Oak Lawn Avenue in Dallas.

The project is the first for TxDOT’s Dallas District under the Texas Clear Lanes congestion relief initiative. Unprecedented population growth in Texas has resulted in significantly increased traffic congestion, no more obviously than on the Lowest Stemmons Freeway/I-35E, which is listed as the eighth most congested roadway segment in the state and one of TxDOT’s top priorities in the Dallas Metropolitan Area.

The project will provide operational improvement along I-35E with the construction of collector-distributor roads and reconstruction of frontage roads from I-30 to North of Oak Lawn Avenue, six new bridges, two bridge widenings, and 17 retaining walls. Within this clogged section of I-35E, the project will improve connectivity by reducing multiple vehicle weaves and relieving congestion with improved flows.

TxDOT estimates the improvements could help increase peak travel time speeds from the current 13mph (21km/h) to as much as 50mph (80km/h). The project has an estimated completion date of early 2020. During the construction phase of the project, MBI will ensure the public’s safety as they travel through this high-profile highway system. The inspection team will oversee implementation of traffic control systems to facilitate safe driving by maintaining clear and properly staged signage and traffic control devices.

“Lowest Stemmons/I-35E is a main artery for many commuters traveling to and from downtown Dallas, as well as the area’s key business and entertainment districts. As drivers can attest, travelling the roadway has proven challenging with the increased traffic congestion in recent years,” explained Ben Torres, senior associate and project manager at MBI.

“The operational improvements that our team are implementing will create an easier commute and safer roadway, as well as improve connectivity between four major systems; I-35, I-30, Dallas North Tollway, and Woodall Rodgers (Spur 366).”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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