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Author Topic: Ranger Hill Improvements  (Read 1860 times)

wxfree

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Ranger Hill Improvements
« on: February 06, 2017, 07:23:24 PM »

This is a relatively minor project, but one in which I've taken an interest for years.  TxDOT will be improving I-20 east of Ranger, along what's called Ranger Hill.  The existing road has an incline, with a 6% grade indicated on warning signs, and significant curves on each side of the incline.  There's also a new rest area on the westbound side at the top of the hill.  The existing hill causes trouble for some trucks.  I've seen trucks slow to as low as about 30 mph, while cars have no trouble climbing at high speeds, which causes a clear hazard.  The downhill side also can cause excessive speed, which is more hazardous due to the curve at the bottom.

The plans were released today.  I've been looking forward to seeing them.  There will be a new piece of road for about 2.4 miles, a few hundred feet south of the existing freeway.  That area has a hill with a substantial grade, but that will be reshaped to carry the new road.  The plans call for a maximum roadway grade of 3.5%.  There will be no warning signs for curves or grade (there are currently warning signs, without advisory speeds, for the curves).  There will still be "Gusty winds area" signs.  In addition to reduced curves and grade, improvements include:

A westbound (uphill) passing lane.  There will be a short temporary lane after the SH 16 entrance ramp.  After that ends there will be a passing lane on the left.  The reduced grade should cause a lot fewer slow trucks, but a third lane will still be nice to have.  I've seen truckers have to slow down behind slower trucks because they were too slow for the left lane.  With a third lane, they may be able to use the middle lane while cars pass on the left.

Continuous two-way frontage roads (if you consider that an improvement).  Currently there are no frontage roads along the hill.  The corridor will still be narrow, either cut or filled essentially the entire way.  The will be a concrete barrier separating the sides of the freeway, and separating each side of the freeway from the adjacent frontage road.  I don't think I've seen that design before.    With the frontage roads being two-way, there will be opposing traffic beside each side of the freeway lanes, which is unusual.  The rest area exit ramp will have a bridge over the frontage road, and the entrance ramp will have an underpass below it.

An increased speed limit.  The speed limit was increased to 75 along with the rest of the statewide increases, but was later reduced to 65 due to the dangerous hill and curves.  The plans call for speed limit signs of 75 along the freeway and 55 along the frontage roads.

As a side note, Ranger Hill is known for having problems during winter weather.  Multiple times people have been rescued from their stranded cars.  With the dearth of lodging in the area, some people have been sheltered in the county jail.  These improvements should make such problems less likely.
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US 81

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2017, 08:00:01 PM »

Ranger Hill is usually fun to drive "as is," but the adult part of me is happy to hear about these improvements.
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wxfree

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2017, 08:25:10 PM »

Ranger Hill is usually fun to drive "as is," but the adult part of me is happy to hear about these improvements.

I have the same thought.  For me, it's like US 67 west of Glen Rose.  I can drive through at the 70 mph speed limit if there's no one in front of me, and it's quite fun, because I know each hill and curve, but that rarely happens because drivers who are unfamiliar with the road, or in less maneuverable vehicles, go slower, which is perfectly reasonable.  (TxDOT has plans to Super-2 that road, which may or may not involve realigning.)  I had no problems at 75 in either direction on Ranger Hill, but I can understand why the interstate driver is nervous and wants to go slower, and why the state wants to make the road better.

A couple of times I came up fast on a slow truck and had to decide either to quickly get into the left lane or slow way down, which would make it difficult to speed up fast enough going uphill to get into the left lane later.  I wouldn't mind not having that happen again.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2017, 11:25:49 PM »

This project seemed to move through the planning process very quickly. I recall seeing meetings about it only within the last 1-2 years. (If anyone knows that it has been in public involvement much longer, please correct me.)

Estimated construction cost is $79.6 million

http://www.dot.state.tx.us/insdtdot/orgchart/cmd/cserve/let/2017/eastland.htm#000706084

wxfree

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2017, 11:50:30 PM »

This project seemed to move through the planning process very quickly. I recall seeing meetings about it only within the last 1-2 years. (If anyone knows that it has been in public involvement much longer, please correct me.)

Estimated construction cost is $79.6 million

http://www.dot.state.tx.us/insdtdot/orgchart/cmd/cserve/let/2017/eastland.htm#000706084

As noted, I've had an interest in this for years.  I haven't seen any official documents or statements, but my web history has a couple of interesting news stories.  In 2013, when the speed limit was reduced to 65 (the change was signed almost immediately after the TTC voted to approve it, which is very rare) the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote about it.  It was mentioned in the story that area residents wanted an even lower speed limit as well as mitigation of the grade and curves.  Of course, with the road being improved, there's no reason not to increase the speed limit.  The plans cover sheet even specifies a design speed of 75, which is the only time I can remember seeing an official design speed higher than 70.
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/traffic/your-commute/article3837533.html

As far as official news is concerned, less than two years ago, TxDOT signed a contract with a consultant to design the improvements.  Environmental clearance was expected by last August and project award was expected as soon as December, which was the original plan.  When the December projects didn't show this one, I checked again and saw that it had been delayed until March.  Now they're officially looking for bids.  Overall, I'd say that was pretty swift.  The new money to TxDOT may have helped to speed it along.
http://www.mineralwellsindex.com/news/keffer-announces-i--ranger-hill-improvements/article_46b28e9c-03ba-11e5-b0d6-83b6e3741ae8.html
« Last Edit: February 07, 2017, 12:03:39 AM by wxfree »
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2017, 07:09:30 PM »

The winning bid was $76.2 million, compared to the estimate of $79.6 million. There were 11 bidders, which seems very high.

http://www.dot.state.tx.us/insdtdot/orgchart/cmd/cserve/bidtab/03083201.htm

Estimate   $79,604,509.10   % Over/Under   Company
Bidder 1   $76,238,256.10   -4.23%   ZACHRY CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION
Bidder 2   $77,888,255.58   -2.16%   SUNDT CONSTRUCTION, INC.
Bidder 3   $79,808,421.44   +0.26%   FLATIRON CONSTRUCTORS, INC.
Bidder 4   $79,922,115.35   +0.40%   A. L. HELMCAMP, INC.
Bidder 5   $83,919,830.87   +5.42%   JAY MILLS CONTRACTING, INCORPORATED
Bidder 6   $84,030,963.38   +5.56%   WEBBER, LLC
Bidder 7   $85,890,353.62   +7.90%   FLUOR ENTERPRISES, INC.
Bidder 8   $87,939,080.19   +10.47%   AMES CONSTRUCTION, INC.
Bidder 9   $89,566,334.99   +12.51%   MARIO SINACOLA & SONS EXCAVATING, INC.
Bidder 10   $90,000,000.00   +13.06%   FISHER SAND & GRAVEL CO.
Bidder 11   $91,490,999.90   +14.93%   THE LANE CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION

wxfree

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2017, 04:16:50 PM »

The contract was awarded at yesterday's TTC meeting.  It's now official.

ftp://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot/commission/2017/0328/11a.pdf
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Brian556

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2018, 01:24:05 AM »

Nice Pics. The new grade looks very wide. The barrels that they are using are in "unacceptable condition". TxDOT should not be allowing the contractor to use them.
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wxfree

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2018, 11:14:53 AM »

Thanks for the update.  Those are nice photos.  I look forward to driving on the new road.

Due to the topography the entire section is either cut or filled, so to minimize the footprint it's being built essentially as a single roadway, 193 feet wide.  This includes 9 lanes with room for a 10th (a future third downhill lane), 8 shoulders, and concrete barriers.  I don't see how wide the grade is, but it includes 1,622,157 of cuts and 2,074,663 of fills, in whatever unit they use.
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SquonkHunter

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Re: Ranger Hill Improvements
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2018, 12:58:56 PM »

Good to see this bottleneck finally being corrected. I have had several bad experiences there over the years with traffic backing up due to slow moving trucks trying to pass even slower moving trucks going up the grade.
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