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Leading Through Collaboration: STV Serves as Prime Engineer for IH-35 Project in Texas and Oklahoma

Mar 28, 2024
rendering of highways

STV recently completed PS&E (plans, specifications and estimates) services for a pivotal 8-mile interstate reconstruction for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in Gainesville, TX. The project, valued at around $500 million in construction costs, is one of the largest projects ever executed within TxDOT’s Wichita Falls District and is one of the only few existing interstate reconstructions overseen by the agency that crosses state lines.

The project includes designs for mainline, frontage road, and ramp reconstruction at six interchanges and the Red River Bridges at the Texas and Oklahoma border. Of the six interchanges, one crosses railroad righty-of-way owned by BNSF Railroad, one is a stack-flip interchange, and the remaining are new, or reconstructed, overpasses.

STV is the prime engineer performing roadway, traffic control, and the structural design of 10 bridges while also leading the survey effort.

IH-35 infographic

The unique project involves interstate reconstruction in both Texas and 1-mile into Oklahoma, constructing two new Red River bridges. To execute the design, our team had to conduct a high level of stakeholder engagement across federal, state, local government, and the sovereign state of Chickasaw Nation.

“Due to the sheer amount of stakeholder coordination required, this was one of the most difficult yet rewarding projects I’ve ever had the opportunity to work on in my career,” said Jacob Roberts, P.E., STV’s deputy project manager. “Working seamlessly together with so many different partners was critical since the area serves as a gateway to Oklahoma. Ensuring that mobility and access were addressed efficiently and thoroughly, while involving everyone in the process, was key to our collective success.”

Other agencies to join TxDOT and Chickasaw Nation in the collaboration process included the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Tulsa District), Federal Emergency Management Association, and the City of Gainesville, Texas, as well as other cities and counties.

rendering of highways

“With over 50,000 vehicles traveling the road daily, the project is extremely important to both Texas and Oklahoma serving as a major traffic corridor,” said Robin Handel, P.E., and STV’s project manager for the IH-35 project. “The new 6-lane facility will provide capacity and safety improvements, helping to alleviate traffic and significantly enhance mobility in the region.” 

TxDOT and ODOT were awarded a grant through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America Grant (INFRA), a federal program that provides discretionary funding for crucial highway and bridge projects. The requirements for the INFRA grant also necessitated a tight schedule and design completion deadline.

With over 50,000 vehicles traveling the road daily, the project is extremely important to both Texas and Oklahoma serving as a major traffic corridor.

The project team was further challenged by the request to revise design schematics while the right-of-way (ROW) acquisition process was already underway. The team segmented the model to expedite ROW verification and concurrently address the schematic changes. From there, the team minimized ROW changes, identifying other project challenges early, while utilizing our surveying team to adjust ROW plans and documents supporting the ongoing acquisition process. 

“It was an extraordinary effort,” Handel added. “Being proactive with our approach to coordination and having everyone on board early in the coordination process was key to our success. We were honored to work on a project of this magnitude with so many different stakeholders.”