Launch Slideshow

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Roads to wealth

Roads to wealth

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    Incorporated in 1887 as a Texas & Pacific Railway stop between Dallas and Shreveport, La., Mesquite's 15 minutes from downtown Dallas at the intersection of five highways. Photo (R) and map: City of Mesquite

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    Built in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration, the old Tripp Road and bridge was a safety hazard. The city eliminated the steep drainage ditches with an underground storm sewer system. Photo: City of Mesquite

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    Twenty-eight of the 105 Contech Construction Products Inc. Conspan Bridge System arches had to match the 11.4-degree angle of the road to the stream. The skew's so severe that the end segments are partial arches supported by adjacent arches or the precast headwall. Photo: Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

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    The road and bridge carry the same number of vehicles — 8,000/day — as before, but traffic flows much more smoothly. Engineering fees were $457,000 and construction, virtually all of it paid for by the sales tax-funded Mesquite Quality of Life Corp., was $9.4 million. Photo: City of Mesquite

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    From left: City Engineer Matt Holzapfel (mholzapf@cityofmesquite.com), PE; Public Works Director Tim Tumulty (ttumulty@cityofmesquite.com), PE; and Economic Development Manager Tom Palmer (tpalmer@cityofmesquite.com). Photo: City of Mesquite

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    Mesquite's partnership with the state produced whimsical design flourishes like this on 22,000 square feet of new sound wall. Photo: City of Mesquite

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    Bridge spans were extended to accommodate additional lanes below. HNTB rejected an alternative bridge section that would've deepened the roadway cut, increased retaining wall height, and lengthened the connection back to the road. Photo: Aerial Photography Inc., courtesy of McCarthy Building Companies Inc.


REPRIORITIZING STATE PLANS

In 1996, a broker promised to develop 60 acres if Mesquite built an exit ramp from the state highway to the parcel.

He wouldn't take no for an answer. Mesquite's Economic Development Manager Tom Palmer found out the state's plan to add capacity on 37 miles of highway — the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway — that loops around Dallas-Fort Worth included just such a ramp. He wanted Texas DOT (TxDOT) to make a two-mile stretch that included the ramp first rather than third phase of reconstruction.

To sweeten the proposal, he offered to partially fund the $50 million project and manage the design. This may be the first time a local government offered to help fund a state project, and it's a tactic other city and county infrastructure managers are mimicking. He credits TxDOT Project Manager Matt McGregor for coming up with another trendsetting suggestion, this one designed to eliminate delays once construction began: include finalized franchise utility relocation designs in bid documents.

The strategies worked.


April 7, 2009

Dear Mayor Monaco,

I wasn't sure who to send this letter to, so I thought you could get it to the right people in the right departments. Thank you

To all those involved in the Tripp Road Project:

Sorry it has taken me so long to tell you what a wonderful job you all have done on Tripp Road. We have waited for the widening of Tripp Road for so long, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would live on such a beautiful new street!

I always thought it would just be a normal widening, but look how much thought and planning went into this project!!! Thank you for making the beautiful bridge and the whole everything at Tripp & Beltline!!! It is so beautiful and we are so proud!! Thank you for the lights along the way that stay with the theme all along the street!!

Thank you for the stonework that is just beautiful everywhere!!

Thanks for trimming the trees along the road, the new sidewalks, and the new grass.

Thanks for the lady who came to talk to us at the beginning who was so nice, and we were the first to get the pictures of what it was going to look like!

Thanks to the workers who were so nice and tried so hard to stay out of our way even when it was impossible. They always smiled or waved back and took care of any inconveniences they could.

I know a lot of people worked on this project from start to finish and I want so much to let them all know how proud we are of our new street! Thank you so much!

Sincerely, Merry Johnsey

Reprinted with permission from the City of Mesquite, Texas


The Mesquite Quality of Life Corp., which is funded by a half-cent sales tax, met the city's $9 million financial commitment; and was reimbursed with monies from a tax increment financing zone created for the area to be developed.

Public works then directed the Plano office of design-engineering firm HNTB to make good on the second endeavor, which in turn subcontracted Cobb, Fendley & Associates Inc. in Dallas as utility liaison. Over the next year the firm hammered out the details, including a promise to require the general contractor (ultimately McCarthy Building Companies Inc.) to subcontract relocations to a company approved by each utility. This assured gas, electric, and communications managers their assets would be handled by contractors with which they had a working relationship.

Though the tactic added about a year to the design phase, Tumulty estimates it cut 12 to 24 months from the overall project schedule.

The ramp that prompted all these machinations opened in 2006, providing 1 million square feet of retail and restaurant establishments. But the job wasn't finished yet. Tumulty and his team continued coordinating local improvements with the state's plan to add two freeway lanes.

To accommodate the increase from eight to 10 lanes, two bridges were widened and given U-turn lanes to improve clearances. An access ramp was built and two ramps rebuilt. A section of frontage road expands access to the retail and restaurant centers. A boulevard was widened to improve capacity and alignment.

Like Tripp Road and bridge, the number of vehicles — 170,000 — passing through the area hasn't changed. But traffic's circulating much more efficiently. In total, the project involved:

  • 83,000 square yards of 11-inch and 83,000 square yards of l5-inch concrete pavement
  • 92,000 square feet of bridge decks
  • 76,900 square feet of retaining walls
  • 1,800 linear feet of water line
  • 1,900 linear feet of sanitary sewer line
  • 500 trees, 400 shrubs, ground cover, and block sodding
  • An irrigation system for the new landscaping
  • 1,600 linear feet of box culverts and 13,000 linear feet of reinforced concrete pipe for drainage
  • 13 high-mast lighting assemblies, 42 landscape spotlights, and 81 floodlights
  • Two pairs of ornamental traffic signals.
  • Public works also got a traffic control center of its own and intelligent elements, such as CCTV and associated camera assembly, that it shares with the state DOT's regional office in Mesquite.

    Palmer expects Mesquite's investment to pay off within 10 years through taxes on new property and higher values of existing properties. But his analysis doesn't include sales taxes, so the city could break even sooner.