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Author Topic: Ranger Hill Improvements  (Read 8668 times)

Brian556

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2020, 08:47:23 PM »

Google Maps shows the eastbound lanes on the new location.  All lanes of the freeway are on the new roadway.  Westbound traffic is in the new eastbound lanes, and eastbound traffic is on the new frontage road.  The old westbound lanes are being used as a ramp to the rest area.  I got some photos today.  My first time to drive on the new road was eastbound (downhill).  When the descent started, I could feel an expectation that it would get steeper, because that's what the old hill did.  But there's only a slight increase in grade, which you won't notice if you're not watching for it.  The hill is still a problem for trucks.  While I was photographing, I could hear the trucks struggle.  Some of them turned on flashers.  I saw two oversize loads slow down to very low speeds.  Some trucks, probably empty or lightly loaded, went up fine.  Driving up it was no problem at all in a car.  Trucks will still struggle, which is why it's good they're putting in the third lane on the uphill side, for slow trucks, faster trucks, and cars.  There's room on the downhill side for a third lane, but it will just be a wide shoulder for now.  I parked at the rest area and hiked down and back up the hill with a camera.  That 6% grade is a somewhat steep climb.

Note that the telephoto lens compresses the axis leading into the distance.  That makes the curves look much sharper than they are.  Part of the new freeway looks like it should have roller coaster rails.  That's an illusion caused by viewing it in two dimensions.

Here I'm about level with the old freeway, before the steep drop.  The new lanes are already down.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1189.jpg

The hill starts earlier.  This is still up at the top of the old hill.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1192.jpg

This shows the current end of the new westbound pavement.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1193.jpeg

I'm standing on the old westbound lanes.  The right lane is now the temporary ramp to the rest area.  Equipment is parked on the old eastbound lanes, across the barrier.  In the distance, you can see where the hill gets steeper.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1194.jpeg

The steady hill is making its way down where the old steep hill was just getting started.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1196.jpeg

It was a fun hill.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1198.jpeg

Here you can see the road the rest of the way down.  There's some lens flare that I didn't notice at the bottom.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1203.jpeg

This is zoomed in more, and shows all the way back to the SH 16 bridge.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1204.jpeg

Toward the top of the hill, the new road is lower.  Toward the bottom, it's higher.  The old road is closer to the natural ground level.  The new road is above it.  The plans shows elevations as high as 65 feet above the previous ground level.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1211.jpeg

The hills start to drop rapidly.  Building a high-speed road here is a challenge.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1213.jpeg

Here you can see the path followed by the old road and the new road.  The freeway at the bottom of the hill is gone.  Traffic to the rest area follows the frontage road to a makeshift ramp.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1215.jpeg

They piled a bunch of dirt from where they cut down the hills.  This is in the eastbound lanes, where only construction vehicles go.  They kept one lane clear.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1221.jpeg

This is the second of two apparently very heavy trucks carrying what appears to be the same thing at a low speed up the hill.  It will be good to have two truck lanes and a car lane once it's all built.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1230.jpeg

Here's a view of the new and old roads and how they're shaped.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1233.jpeg

Here's a little more.  This is unrelated to the project.  It's just some road porn.

The rest area is right beside part of the Bankhead Highway and old SH 1, where they followed the original route up that hill.  Here's a historical marker.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1261.jpeg

This historic route marker is very near the drive in the rest area.  It's along an old stretch of highway that is not accessible, by vehicle, to the public.  But you can park by the historical marker and walk to it.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1263.jpeg

Fort Worth is this way.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1264.jpeg

Abilene is that way.  The pavement is in decent condition, but the lanes are about 8 feet wide.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1265.jpeg

These last two are just pretty.  This is the view to the east.  The SH 16 bridge is on the left.  It's about 1.5 miles away.  The Tudor Rd. bridge in the middle is about 3 miles away.  The cell tower in the distance is 5 miles away.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1206.jpeg

You can tell where this one is.
http://patternsandprinciples.com/rs/rh/DSC_1273.jpeg

Nice pictures. Thank you for the update. This reminds me of when I-24 east on Monteagle, TN was rebuilt in the 80's. Random thought: Since trucks go up the hill slowly, and the speed differential between trucks and cars =danger and inconvenience, maybe instead of a frontage road, they should have had a separate set of lanes for trucks. That would have created an issue for the exit ramp to the rest area, though. But, however, you could just make the left set of lanes private vehicles only, and the outside lanes for trucks and private vehicles that whish to access the rest area
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wxfree

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2020, 09:23:13 PM »

Those frontage roads really aren't needed.  The land is too steep to ever build anything there to access by the frontage roads.  Access to the rest area is going to be from the freeway lanes.  The ramp will go over the frontage road.  Rearranging a little, they could make the north frontage road into truck lanes.  They could work out for an exit that splits from the truck lanes and joins the planned ramp.  This is well after the hill, where it wouldn't require moving too much dirt to build that second ramp.  There would be no need for a second entrance ramp back to the truck lanes, because those could end in the same area.

It would be cheaper to do this now, before it's built, than to go back and rearrange it after they discover a design flaw that's already obvious.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 10:50:17 PM by wxfree »
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wxfree

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2020, 11:28:49 PM »

With the freeway lanes being surrounded by barriers, I just thought about what would happen during heavy rain.  I'm sure TxDOT doesn't want an Interstate turning into a river.  An examination of the full-sized versions of my photos shows frequent holes in the outer barrier along the south frontage road, where water can pour out, and drains about every 250 feet under the freeway barriers.  The north frontage road will presumably have an outer barrier where it runs over the fill section with a steep drop-off, but due to the tilt of the road because of the curve, it shouldn't need holes, since the water should run to the left and not the right.  The construction plans show a lot of very small drainage areas along the roads where they're encased by barriers.  It appears that they are not building this freeway to function as a water slide during storms.
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sprjus4

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2020, 02:43:47 AM »

Those frontage roads really aren't needed.  The land is too steep to ever build anything there to access by the frontage roads.  Access to the rest area is going to be from the freeway lanes.  The ramp will go over the frontage road.  Rearranging a little, they could make the north frontage road into truck lanes.  They could work out for an exit that splits from the truck lanes and joins the planned ramp.  This is well after the hill, where it wouldn't require moving too much dirt to build that second ramp.  There would be no need for a second entrance ramp back to the truck lanes, because those could end in the same area.

It would be cheaper to do this now, before it's built, than to go back and rearrange it after they discover a design flaw that's already obvious.
Are there any private access points along that segment? If so, that would require frontage road access, unless another I-10 or I-40 situation is desired on an incline / decline.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2020, 12:01:57 PM »

Are there any private access points along that segment? If so, that would require frontage road access, unless another I-10 or I-40 situation is desired on an incline / decline.

Not necessarily--depending on how the affected parcels are configured, TxDOT could provide backage access or simply buy up all the access rights and landlock them.

Other jurisdictions have dealt with the access issue by favoring "middle of the mile" routings that leave existing accesses undisturbed.  A typical PLSS mile square is divided into quarter sections, with no access existing along the inner boundaries of each quarter section.  A common approach during the era of first Interstate construction was to place 300 ft-400 ft right-of-way on top of these inner boundaries, preserving access along the bordering section-line roads without creating an obligation to provide access from the freeway itself.

About twenty years ago, TxDOT considered defaulting to backage access in its highway design manual, which would have meant frontage roads would no longer be constructed as a matter of routine.  The agency U-turned after a public outcry.
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wxfree

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #30 on: July 29, 2020, 03:05:13 PM »

There is a private drive at the end of the north frontage road, which is before the hill begins.  The plans call for that to become an access drive where the new frontage road curves away from it.  That part of the road is in bad shape, so I wouldn't be surprised if they turn it over the to adjoining landowner to relieve themselves of the expense of maintaining it.  The rest of the way is along the old freeway, to which there is no existing access.  The north side especially is too hilly for there to ever be drives built.  Even if someone wants to try, as long as they never give access to the new road, they're not liable for denial of access that was never there.  It makes sense to me for them to keep denial of access the whole way, just so that the adjoining owner doesn't build a 4WD road down to the frontage road and claim a permanent right of access.

The truck lanes would begin after the intersection with the access drive.  The frontage road would merge onto the freeway, and then the truck lanes would exit.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2020, 03:13:29 PM by wxfree »
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bwana39

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #31 on: July 30, 2020, 01:35:19 PM »

This is in Texas. There has been no FREE Interstate built since the 1960's without through frontage roads. So basically no frontage roads is not an option especially where one previously existed.

One of the high priority projects in Dallas is adding complete frontage roads to I-635. As a note. Everything on 635 has access to the street grid, just not to the freeway.
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rte66man

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #32 on: July 30, 2020, 06:53:02 PM »

This is in Texas. There has been no FREE Interstate built since the 1960's without through frontage roads. So basically no frontage roads is not an option especially where one previously existed.

Portions of I37 (built in the mid to late 70s) do not have frontage roads. The stretch of I45 from Streetman to Centerville also was built in the mid 70's with no frontage roads.
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Stephane Dumas

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #33 on: July 30, 2020, 08:21:23 PM »

I saw a slightly more recent satellite photo of Ranger Hill at https://satellites.pro/USA_map#E32.495836,-98.532643,15
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #34 on: July 30, 2020, 08:45:05 PM »

This is in Texas. There has been no FREE Interstate built since the 1960's without through frontage roads. So basically no frontage roads is not an option especially where one previously existed.

Portions of I37 (built in the mid to late 70s) do not have frontage roads. The stretch of I45 from Streetman to Centerville also was built in the mid 70's with no frontage roads.

Just for the record, the last section of IH-45 between Houston and Dallas opened on October 13, 1971.



bwana39

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #35 on: July 31, 2020, 04:21:33 PM »

This is in Texas. There has been no FREE Interstate built since the 1960's without through frontage roads. So basically no frontage roads is not an option especially where one previously existed.

Portions of I37 (built in the mid to late 70s) do not have frontage roads. The stretch of I45 from Streetman to Centerville also was built in the mid 70's with no frontage roads.

I guess I SHOULD have said started / designed before the seventies. I am still in my 50's. I don't remember I-45 not being open. As far as that goes, I-30 between Mount Pleasant and New Boston was opened in the early to mid 70's and it does not have "through" service roads.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 04:24:07 PM by bwana39 »
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Brian556

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2021, 03:41:38 PM »

Google Street View has been updated, and it shows the nearly-completed improvements. Looks well done. Unfortunately, they did not update satellite view, so you cannot see what has been done with the old alignment
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #37 on: December 28, 2021, 06:51:12 PM »

Looking at the Google street view, I already see a lot of crack spalling in the concrete. It's small now, but these cracks grow over time. My observation is that when you see crack spalling in brand-new pavement, it's only going to get worse with time.
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.4956366,-98.5402325,3a,75y,224.75h,63.17t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sn5u432iJXzUoARHtUFxpVQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=en

Crack spalling has been an ongoing and pervasive problem, particularly in the Houston area, going back to the 1980s. It's less common these days, but it still happens. It is upsetting that TxDOT can't consistently get good quality concrete.

Plutonic Panda

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #38 on: December 28, 2021, 06:56:13 PM »

Looking at the Google street view, I already see a lot of crack spalling in the concrete. It's small now, but these cracks grow over time. My observation is that when you see crack spalling in brand-new pavement, it's only going to get worse with time.
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.4956366,-98.5402325,3a,75y,224.75h,63.17t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sn5u432iJXzUoARHtUFxpVQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=en

Crack spalling has been an ongoing and pervasive problem, particularly in the Houston area, going back to the 1980s. It's less common these days, but it still happens. It is upsetting that TxDOT can't consistently get good quality concrete.
Has TxDOT accepted the final product yet? Surely they will inspect it and find this.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #39 on: December 28, 2021, 07:52:12 PM »

Has TxDOT accepted the final product yet? Surely they will inspect it and find this.

My perception is that crack spalling can't be fixed or corrected. Basically, you just have to live with it as it becomes worse over the years, and eventually corrective action will be needed. TxDOT has tried different solutions in Houston. One repair technique was concrete-style epoxy, but it doesn't work. It disintegrates very quickly. Nowadays they grind out the loose concrete from the crack and fill it with asphalt. While this reduces the washboard effect, there is still a noticeable washboard effect and of course it looks bad. When the spalling becomes severe, an asphalt overlay is used.

You can see some asphalt repairs on the view below of IH-69 at Loop 610. That concrete was finished around 1992 and it has been steadily disintegrating. There's plenty of much-older concrete around Houston in much better condition. The spalling is always contract-specific, and you can always see abrupt transitions from good to bad concrete where the concrete was built by different contractors. For example, just half a mile ahead of the view below, concrete built at the same time is in mint condition. Other freeways with serious problems in the Houston area are I-69 in Sugarland (built in the 2000s), a section of SH 249 near Tomball (around 10 years old), US 90 northeast of Houston, and the SH 288 between the Loop and Beltway (which was overlaid with asphalt years ago). Fortunately most recent work is decent quality, but the problem has not been fully solved, as best as I can tell.

As for the Ranger work, if the concrete batch sample tests met specification (which they surely did), then that's the end of the story. It's really up to TxDOT to properly specify the concrete to ensure good quality. Whatever causes it, maybe alkali-silica reaction, needs to be prevented.

There's also the water-blanket technique to keep the concrete wet while curing (which prevents cracks). I never see TxDOT use water blankets, but the Fort Bend County Tollway Authority has used it for recent work on the Westpark Tollway. That concrete is crack-free and should stay smooth as glass for decades.


http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20200105_006_1600.jpg



Bobby5280

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #40 on: December 28, 2021, 10:09:07 PM »

How bad an issue is red clay in the Ranger Hill area? It's hell to deal with here in Oklahoma. Red clay doesn't play nice with contractors trying to take short cuts or do other tricks to boost the profit margin.
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wxfree

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #41 on: January 14, 2022, 10:44:30 PM »

In a new thread, it was asked how the project changes the number of centerline miles.  In order to keep the discussion in a single thread, I'll reply here.  In the removal layout, it shows station 2005 in the center of the freeway under the SH 16 bridge, close to the center of the bridge.  Since this is based on the old road, what's being removed, I assume that's based on the old lengths.  On the new road, that bridge is about halfway between 2000 and 2005.  If I understand this correctly, that means the new road is about 250 feet shorter.  I doubt they'll move hundreds of markers to the east for such a small change.  I would guess that they'll update the marker locations in areas that are being reconstructed, since they're removing and replacing them anyway.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2022, 10:48:41 PM by wxfree »
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wxfree

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #42 on: January 31, 2022, 11:35:09 PM »

Last week the Texas Transportation Commission ordered the speed limit along this stretch changed to 75.  It was changed to 75 along with the statewide increases as a result of the 2011 legislation that made the 75 mph speed limit legal statewide, and then it was reduced to 65 near the hill because of the hazardous conditions in 2013.  The speed limit on the freeway will be 75 all the way through once the work zone speed limits are removed.  Also, they ordered a speed limit of 55 for the newly constructed frontage roads, which matches the speed limit on the existing adjacent frontage roads.
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ethanhopkin14

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #43 on: February 01, 2022, 04:34:02 PM »

Thanks for the update.  Realigned freeways are definitely a cool thing, them being fringe and all.  Anytime I see one it's a cool thing. 
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