By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Drivers who regularly cross Gainesville’s intersection of Highway 82 and Interstate 35 are advised to avoid it this weekend.
Texas Department of Transportation officials announced Monday that the highway bridge over the interstate will be closed “end to end” to all traffic while an Ed Bell Construction crew plows through a weekend of replacing bridge joints and the approaches to the bridge.
TxDOT Public Information Officer Adele Lewis added Tuesday that unless bad weather prevents work and causes rescheduling, barriers are set to be raised Friday evening and remain through early Monday, or when the project’s concrete has cured.
“We’re using a special concrete that takes less time to cure,” she said. “We need to get in there and get it done so that we don’t do much in the way of impeding traffic. We considered doing this over several nights, but it seems like a bigger hassle on the locals.”
At 8 p.m. Friday, the Ed Bell crew will close the Highway 82 bridge and detour its traffic onto the frontage roads. From that point, demolition crews will work through the night on Friday to remove the existing expansion joints and approach slabs.
On Saturday morning, the bridge crew will set the new expansion joints, form the approach slabs, place reinforcing steel and pour new concrete. This concrete is expected to cure Saturday night and Sunday morning and after it shows sufficient strength, the Ed Bell crew will remove the traffic control barriers and reopen Highway 82.
What drivers should know
All Highway 82 traffic vehicles will be detoured onto the frontage roads and travel approximately one mile to the turnarounds — where they will then change directions and head back to the highway. The signals at the intersections of the frontage road and the highway will be changed to “flash mode” in order to keep the traffic moving. Drivers should note that the detours and closings will not have any impact on Interstate 35 mainline traffic.
Credit where due
On Tuesday, Lewis credited the efficiency of Ed Bell Construction, a Gainesville builder also involved with the recently completed overpass at the intersection of Highway 82 and FM 678.
“You’ve got a very accurate contractor that knows what they’re doing,” she said. “They’re professionals at this and we have total confidence that this is going to go well.”
Lewis added that Gainesville is currently the second-largest city in her nine-county TxDOT district, the largest being Wichita Falls. She also said TxDOT’s engineering and contract work on local mainstays such as Highway 82 and Interstate 35 are performed more and more with an eye on reducing traffic congestion, which is largely absent in Wichita Falls.
“We’re trying to bring innovative processes as far north as possible to Cooke County,” she said. “They’re growing at an extreme rate there. Witness Denton County. We’re trying to accommodate the future growth of Gainesville, and we’re trying to get ahead of the curve.”