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Two Years of IIJA Investments Fuel Growth in Texas

by: Jack Quigley
The I-410/I-10 East Interchange is one of five projects designed to increase capacity, upgrade the freeway, and address deteriorating pavement conditions.
The I-410/I-10 East Interchange is one of five projects designed to increase capacity, upgrade the freeway, and address deteriorating pavement conditions.
The $100 million I-410/I-10 East Interchange includes construction of two direct connector ramps and pavement improvements.
The $100 million I-410/I-10 East Interchange includes construction of two direct connector ramps and pavement improvements.
Dredged segment 1a (Bolivar Roads to Redfish) in Port Houston’s Houston Ship Channel expansion project
Dredged segment 1a (Bolivar Roads to Redfish) in Port Houston’s Houston Ship Channel expansion project
Pictured here is the Port of Houston along the Houston Ship Channel. (Photo courtesy of Business Wire)
Pictured here is the Port of Houston along the Houston Ship Channel. (Photo courtesy of Business Wire)
Weeks Marine uses booster (auxiliary/support equipment) for the Houston Ship Channel project.
Weeks Marine uses booster (auxiliary/support equipment) for the Houston Ship Channel project.
The connector from westbound SH 151 to northbound Loop 1604 will alleviate congestion and safety issues.
The connector from westbound SH 151 to northbound Loop 1604 will alleviate congestion and safety issues.
SH 151/Loop 1604 project
SH 151/Loop 1604 project
SH 151/Loop 1604 project
SH 151/Loop 1604 project
Crews work on the I-35 Capital Express project in Central Texas.
Crews work on the I-35 Capital Express project in Central Texas.
I-35 Capital Express project
I-35 Capital Express project
In November 2021, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure. President Joe Biden’s administration proposed this legislation to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.

Over two years have passed since Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and hundreds of substantial infrastructure improvement projects are already in full swing across the country. The Biden Administration invested $31.7 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy in Texas, including:

  • $20 billion for transportation investments, including roads, bridges, public transit, ports, airports, electric vehicle charging stations, and electric buses.
  • $4.2 billion in grants, rebates, and other incentives to boost the use of clean energy, buildings, and manufacturing. These funds are in addition to incentives created by the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • $1.2 billion for climate resiliency and hardening against other threats.
  • $1.5 billion for improving access to clean water and water infrastructure, including $368.4 million for replacing lead pipes and service lines.

Highlighted below are a few of the top IIJA-funded projects underway in Texas.

Top Projects
Fort Worth Central City Modification
IIJA Funding: $403 million
Construction Start Date: 2024
Estimated End Date: 2032

The Fort Worth District received $403 million as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2022. Those funds will be used to develop the initial design of the gates and pump station, complete the designs of the Bypass Channel and three Valley Storage Sites, and construct the interior portions of the Bypass Channel, three Valley Storage Sites, and all required aquatic mitigation, which aligns with the construction sequencing plan of the program. Additional work plan funds allow for design work to continue on remaining features of the project.

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The Modified Central City Project has various components including an approximate 8,400-foot bypass channel, three isolation gates, low water dam, and valley storage mitigation sites (Gateway Park, Ham Branch, Riverside Park, Rockwood Park West, Samuels Avenue, and University Drive) to provide flood risk management functions along the Clear Fork and West Fork of the Trinity River.

“Moving the designs of the gates and pump station forward will provide the integration needed for all operational aspects of the Bypass Channel to reduce flood risk to upstream Fort Worth neighborhoods,” said Kalli Egan, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Program Manager.

Construct Direct Connectors on IH 10
IIJA Funding: $365.76 million
Construction Start Date: Mid-2021
Estimated End Date: Mid-2025

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is committed to improving mobility and increasing safety for motorists using the heavily traveled I-10 corridor on San Antonio’s east side. In 2016, TxDOT began reconstructing I-10 East from I-410 to the Bexar County line under five separate but overlapping projects that included improvements to overpasses and interchanges. Converting the frontage roads from two-way to one-way access with turnarounds at cross street intersections is also part of the larger plan to improve the entire I-10 corridor between San Antonio and Houston.

The five projects are designed to increase capacity to meet the growing traffic demand; upgrade the freeway to current federal and TxDOT safety and design standards; and address deteriorating pavement conditions due to heavy traffic use, large truck volumes, and poor soils in the area.

The last of the five projects under the I-10 East umbrella, the $100 million I-410/I-10 East Interchange includes construction of two direct connector ramps from northbound I-410 to eastbound I-10 and from westbound I-10 to southbound I-410, as well as I-410 pavement improvements.

This project also reconfigures the W.W. White intersection at I-410 to a displaced left turn intersection, also known as a continuous flow intersection. The new design relocates left-turn movements to the other side of opposing traffic flow, allowing left turns to proceed simultaneously with through movements.

Houston Ship Channel
IIJA Funding: $142.52 million
Construction Start Date: 2021
Estimated End Date: 2026

Since 2010, Port Houston has been partnering with the USACE Galveston District to expand the Houston Ship Channel. The $1 billion channel improvement project — called Project 11 — will receive an additional $142 million in funding under the IIJA. This funding is specifically designated to complete Segment 3 of Project 11, which focuses on the Barbours Cut Container Terminal section of the Houston Ship Channel, to improve efficiency and safety throughout the channel.

When complete, Project 11 will widen the channel by 170 feet along its Galveston Bay reach, from 530 feet to 700 feet. It will also deepen some upstream segments from 41.5 feet to 46.5 feet, make other safety and efficiency improvements, and craft new environmental features. The fiscal year 2023 President’s Budget also proposed allocating $40.3 million for operations and maintenance funding for the Houston Ship Channel.

“This federal funding is essential to keep Project 11 on track and bring to fruition a safer, faster, and cleaner ship channel for all users,” Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenter said in a press release. “This investment and continued partnership with the USACE will enable our ship channel to keep leading the way in supply chain efficiencies and meet the demands of new markets and supply chains. Thank you to all those involved in bringing these funds back to Houston.”

Widen Road - Add Lanes on SL 1604
IIJA Funding: $110.1 million
Construction Start Date: May 2023
Estimated End Date: Early 2027

This $100 million project will widen SH 151 from four to six lanes (three lanes each way) with a concrete center barrier. The new lanes will be added in the existing grassy median between the eastbound and westbound lanes, requiring the installation of an underground storm drain system.

This project will also build a new connector from westbound SH 151 to northbound Loop 1604 to replace the existing tight J-ramp. The new connector will exit from 151 just past the current exit to northbound 1604. It will be two lanes and will be mostly at ground level except for a “braided” overpass over a new extended northbound access road.

After merging with the existing Loop 1604 mainlanes on an expanded overpass over Culebra, there will be four northbound lanes (two lanes from the connector plus the existing two through lanes.) The far-right lane will then exit at Shaenfield Road, and the remaining right lane will end just past the Shaenfield exit.

Added lanes are needed to provide capacity for current and future traffic volumes in this corridor. Traffic volumes have increased substantially since the opening of the flyover connectors at Loop 410. Computer modeling of the improvements versus doing nothing shows a decrease in 2045 travel times of 34 percent to 60 percent, depending on direction and time of day. The connector from westbound SH 151 to northbound Loop 1604 will alleviate the congestion and safety issues caused by the current J-ramp there. The turnarounds and turn lane improvements will help reduce congestion and improve operations at those intersections.

Widen Road - Add Lanes on IH 35
IIJA Funding: $108 million
Construction Start Date: November 2022
Estimated End Date: Late 2028

I-35’s Austin-area section carries nearly 200,000 vehicle trips per day, 85 percent of which are local to the region. The roadway has evolved since its construction in the 1950s to become a critical mobility link connecting Austin, Central Texas, and beyond.

The highway’s construction and current design on top of East Avenue also had consequences, becoming a physical barrier between East and West Austin, and perpetuating racial and economic divisions for decades. The City of Austin first established a racial barrier along East Avenue by adopting its 1928 land use plan that segregated the city for years. Austin has long since removed the segregationist language from its legal code and land use plan, but the physical barrier has remained.

The redesign and construction of the new I-35 Capital Express has a role to play in rectifying this historical inequity for Central Texas. The Austin Transportation Department seeks to address this historical barrier in its approach to partnering with TxDOT.

The reconstruction of I-35 is one of the most important mobility projects for the Central Texas region. Along with the major transit investment the community is making with Capital Metro, this project will have a long-term footprint in the area.

The project includes adding elevated managed lanes between SH 71/Ben White Boulevard and Slaughter Lane and constructing a southbound I-35 bypass lane that will allow traffic to bypass Stassney Lane and William Cannon Drive. The project will add two high occupancy vehicle managed lanes in each direction along I-35 between SH 71/Ben White Boulevard and SH 45 Southeast. In addition, the project will reconstruct bridges, relocate and reconstruct entrance and exit ramps, add pedestrian and bicycle paths, and make additional safety and mobility improvements within the project limits.

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