WAXAHACHIE — Orange construction barrels, orange street signs and workers in orange safety vests all point to one thing — roadwork.

The Texas Department of Transportation kicked off the rehabilitation and repair of three Farm-to-Market Roads — FM 878, FM 813 and FM 664 — in and around Waxahachie last week.

“Work began on Farm-to-Market Road 813 last week and that is Brown Street. They are doing a full depth concrete repair. So they are going to mill it up. They are going to repair underneath the top layer, the subgrade,” said Michelle Releford, TxDOT Public Information Officer for the Dallas District. “Then they are going to put on a new top layer. Then they are going to move to FM 878 next. I am not sure what the time frame is or how long the section is or how long it will take, but it is a yearlong project.”

According to the TxDOT Project Tracker, work on FM 878 from U.S. Highway 77 to U.S. Highway 287 will include full-depth pavement repair and mill and overlay, as well as the addition of three-foot shoulders, at the cost of approximately $3,520,458. Work on FM 813 from FM 878 to U.S. Highway 287 will consist of mill and overlay on the asphalt portions of the roadway, which carries an estimated $482,308 price tag. The third project is the addition of three-foot shoulders to both sides and rehabilitation of the pavement will be added on FM 664 from U.S. Highway 287 Business to U.S. Highway 287. This project is estimated to cost $2,984,520, according to the TxDOT Project Tracker.

“All three of the roads were built differently originally, so they have different conditions. They are all in pretty good condition, but there is some stress cracking. On FM 664 and portions of FM 878, we are adding three-foot safety shoulders. That is a part of the project. That is something we are trying to do on all our roads that don’t have safety shoulders. As we get the funding in and the designs were drawn up we go ahead and put in safety shoulders wherever we can,” Releford said. “They give drivers a place to pull off if they need to if the car breaks down or if someone veers into the roadway they have a little more room to maneuver. Safety is our priority. So in the last several years, it has been identified that we have a lot of two lane roads out there that didn’t have shoulders and they could really use that.”

According to its 2012 report, TxDOT asked the Texas Transportation Institute to analyze and review three years of pre-and post-improvement data on more than a 1,000 miles of narrow two-lane highways that had been widened. The numbers showed that on 1,159 miles of recently added highway shoulders, there were 133 fewer fatalities and 895 fewer injuries compared to before the widening.

“From the 2009 safety bond initiative — among the 37 completed widening projects from that bond initiative, fatalities were reduced by an average of five annually,” the report stated. “The $29 million construction cost for those 37 projects — through the 20-year life of the project — could save an estimated $456.4 million from fewer fatalities and serious injuries.”

The report also states that studies show road-widening projects in the state could save up to 880 lives and prevent nearly 6,000 injuries over the next 20 years. The TxDOT website also states that it is responsible for maintaining 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail and public transportation across Texas.

The contractor on the three current projects is Big Creek Construction. According to Big Creek’s website, the company has been a contractor in Central Texas for all phases of heavy highway construction for the TxDOT including subgrade work, rehab work, bridge construction, seal coat and asphalt paving since 1997. It has also been involved in numerous local municipalities in their airport taxiway upgrades, street construction, and road rehab programs. Big Creek Construction also has years of experience with site development. It has asphalt operations in Waco, Killeen, Corsicana and Centerville, as well as Ready Mix operations in the Waco area.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $6.9 million and has a completion date of March of 2018.

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