When considering the elements necessary for successful infrastructure improvements, sustainability might not immediately come to mind. But our 183 South project team is proving that environmental preservation is an attainable and important goal—both for contractors and the communities they serve.
A joint venture with Fluor and Balfour Beatty, 183 South will offer Central Texas drivers a non-stop, signal-free route to improve mobility. The essential north-south alternative to I-35 will also provide significant enhancements to the corridor, including non-tolled, general-purpose lanes and new, multimodal transportation options in bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
Through early community outreach, the owner identified 50 legacy oaks trees within the footprint of the new roadway, some of the oldest dating to 150 years in age and valued anywhere from $25,000 to $660,000. Balfour Beatty learned that the protection of the large oak trees within the project corridor was a key goal for the client and community. The Mobility Authority also incentivized the joint venture team to protect and preserve the large oak trees located within the project limits just south of Montopolis Drive near Callahan's General Store.
As a design-build project, the roadway's footprint was previously established, and for a considerable amount of the project, the team was able to design around the trees. However, for specific areas, the landscape required the road to be split for the trees to be left unharmed, a difficult task at that juncture in the construction schedule. To accomplish this, the Mobility Authority invited tree preservation groups and representatives from the City of Austin, the Texas Department of Transportation and additional stakeholders to outline a comprehensive set of Best Management Practices (BMPs), which included how the large oak trees near Montopolis Drive could be protected before and during construction.
In addition to installing additional fencing around the trees, the joint venture team fertilized them periodically and retained an arborist to ensure their proper care. The arborist visited the jobsite once every two months or as needed throughout construction. Prior to performing any excavation work, the team carefully analyzed below-ground conditions in collaboration with the arborist to ensure roots would not be accidentally cut.
Additionally, they partnered with preservation groups to promote the maintenance and expansion of the urban tree canopy in Austin – a philanthropic project including the planting of hundreds of new trees along the corridor and the installation of native landscaping at critical locations to help improve the visual appeal of the corridor.
With deep roots in sustainable construction, Balfour Beatty is committed to environmental preservation on 183 South and all of the essential infrastructure work we are honored to perform from coast-to-coast.
The 183 South project is expected to complete at the end of 2020.