Contractors have “substantially completed” work on Interstate 35 frontage road bridges over the Brazos River, and those unique structures and a nearby roadway extension should be ready for Baylor University to open its new stadium Aug. 31.
Except for some cosmetic landscaping and a pedestrian and bicycle path leading to the riverwalk, major Texas Department of Transportation projects in and around Baylor’s new 45,000-seat McLane Stadium are on track to open for Baylor’s season opener with SMU, Baylor executive associate athletic director Nick Joos said.
TxDOT officials opened one lane to traffic on each side of the two frontage road bridges over the river late last month as work continues on the bridges. Each access bridge will have two travel lanes plus an auxiliary lane for merging.
“It’s all coming together just like we expected,” Wheatley said. “They are on schedule and it looks like work will be done before the first game at the new stadium.”
The bridge project is costing $43 million and includes decorative but functional suspension cables that are made to mimic the look of the historic Waco Suspension Bridge. The 620-foot hybrid suspension-girder “extradosed” bridges are the first of their kind in Texas and the third in the nation, Wheatley said.
“That is what makes them unique bridges,” Wheatley said. “It is history in its own right, and they are a modern kind of suspension bridge.”
While the girders are decorative and resemble the Suspension Bridge, they also support 20 percent of the bridge’s weight, she said.
Workers also are completing what is known as Loop 574, a four-lane expansion and extension of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between I-35 and LaSalle Avenue. The $13.7 million road project will be completed in July, Wheatley said, and provide additional access to the new football stadium.
Wheatley said contractors build “weather days” into all construction contracts. She said she thinks they figured it right for the current projects, “although we have had some unusual weather this year,” including freezing days this winter and three solid days of rain in July 2013.