The Baytown Public Works Department have been awarded the 2019 Project of the Year award from the American Public Works Association for San Jacinto Boulevard.
The department was also honored at the TPWA Annual Conference in Austin in June. The project’s design engineer, Kimley Horn & Associates, as well as the contractors, Angel Brothers Construction, were co-recipients of the award for transportation projects in the $5 million to $25 million category.
Eric Dargan, past president of the Texas Chapter of the American Public Works Association, spoke to council this week about the award and the project.
“Many people do not know about public works,” Dargan said. “They are what I consider the quiet heroes. On behalf of the 17,000 public works employees in Texas, remember when you get up in the morning and turn on that faucet, think about public works that is producing that water you drink. When you flush the toilet, think about the public works that is processing the wastewater that takes it away from your house and neighborhood and processes it and sends it back into the environment. When you back up out of your driveway and drive down the street, remember public works built and maintained that street. We touch people every day, and most of us don’t know we exist.”
Councilman Bob Hoskins, in the role of mayor pro-tem, thanked the Public Works Department for its accomplishment.
“That street is the pearl for what we see coming for the City of Baytown, and we hope there are a whole lot more streets we will add to that jewel,” Hoskins said. “It looks wonderful down there.”
Deputy City Manager Ron Bottoms gave a brief update on the project, saying it is moving along.
The next phase of the project, Bottoms said the intersection where the boulevard and West Cedar Bayou Lynchburg meet at Bush Road was delayed for a couple of weeks.
“It was to move some quality control boxes and electrical conduits,” he said. “They were delayed because of the rain.”
Bottoms said the intersection would shut down for about three weeks starting July 22. City Manager Rick Davis explained.
“There are a myriad of intersection improvements we have to make there to connect San Jacinto Boulevard to Bush Road,” Davis said.
Bottoms emphasized that West Cedar Bayou Lynchburg would be open the entire time.
“It is only Bush Road that will actually be closed,” Bottoms said. “That is an important distinction.”
West Cedar Bayou Lynchburg, which is a two-lane road, belongs to Harris County, not to the city. Frida Villalobos, Harris County Pct. 2 spokeswoman, said a study is in the works.
“It looks like there’s a study planned for drainage and widening of two-lane asphalt section to concrete,” Villalobos said. “At this time, there’s only study and no timeline yet set on construction.”
Bottoms said once Hunt Road opens up, motorists should start to see more traffic relief.
“It will have such an impact on traffic,” he said. “It will take a lot of traffic off of Garth.”
Bottoms added they are looking to open up Phase II of the boulevard later in the fall.
Another related project is the ramp reversal, which should make it easier for travelers to enter San Jacinto Boulevard from Interstate 10.
“(The Texas Department of Transportation) is starting in September to reverse the on/off ramp between John Martin Road and Garth Road,” Bottoms said. “That will allow people heading eastbound on I-10 get off the ramp and onto San Jacinto Boulevard. It’ll make access to the boulevard a lot better.”
The project is expected to have a year to 18-month construction schedule.
The boulevard project came about after residents spoke through the city’s Imagine Baytown initiative and found the primary issue with citizens was the congested commercial corridor of Garth Road.
So a directive was given to the Engineering and Public Works departments and they responded with the San Jacinto Boulevard project. Baytown hired Kimley-Horn & Associates in 2014 to engineer the project.
Angel Brothers Enterprises was awarded a contract to construct the road. The overall project cost has remained around $18 million. Even with the challenges associated with impacts from Hurricane Harvey, the project was substantially completed in October 2018 prior to the deadline of the project.
Kimley-Horn specified the use of continuously reinforced concrete pavement with strict adherence to industry defined smoothness standards. Angel Brothers utilized slip form paving equipment and the specified continuous reinforcement to meet this increased standard of construction quality. Utilizing this method, Angel Brothers installed the required pavement without any required rework from the city.
Kimley-Horn also designed “wave walls,” a project-specific public art installation within portions of the median. This installation includes steel pickets that are installed at specific heights and angles and spacing within the median to allow for the illusion of movement as a car drives past, but the driver can still see through for line of sight and safety.
One of the highlights of the San Jacinto Boulevard project is the Sam Houston statue installation in the roundabout at the San Jacinto Boulevard and Hunt Road intersection to highlight the area’s history going back to the Texas Revolution and pay homage to the roadway’s namesake.
The San Jacinto Monument, which memorializes the Battle of San Jacinto, is located just across the San Jacinto River from Baytown. The city engaged David Adickes, a local Houston artist renowned for his art installations throughout greater Houston, but most famous for his 40-foot tall Sam Houston sculpture along Interstate-45 in Huntsville. Once under contract, Adickes created a rough scale model and then began his process of creating the massive sculpture. The sculpture was delivered to the site in October 2018.