A local sand mining company is funding a project that started Monday improving Highway 115 in Winkler County, the newest of many roadway improvement projects in the Odessa District of the Texas Department of Transportation.
The project will involve adding auxiliary lanes, shoulders and a left turn lane in Winkler County about 1.5 miles northeast of FM 874, and will also include improvements such as widening the roadway, overlaying the entire roadway, and adding new signs and striping to accommodate the new lane designs, a TxDOT news release stated.
High Roller Sand, a Dallas-based sand mining company, is paying the costs directly to the contractor for the project, valued at $1 million, the release detailed, and the work is being done by FNF Construction of Tempe, Ariz.
“High Roller Sand is pleased to work with TxDOT to do its part in improving the highway infrastructure and improve safety for the communities we serve,” High Roller Group Chief Financial Officer Jake Bender said.
Odessa District of TxDOT Spokesman Gene Powell said TxDOT has 12 fully executed agreements worth a total of $18 million with sand mining companies to make highway improvements, and an additional four are in the works worth about $8.5 million. Powell said the majority are in Winkler County, where he said most of the sand mining is, and a couple are in Ward County.
These improvements come any time one of these companies applies to build a driveway, Powell said. They apply for a permit, and TxDOT lets them know they need a certain type of driveway for the amount of traffic they will generate, and TxDOT recommends they install auxiliary lanes, acceleration lanes and left turn lanes to improve safety at the location.
“We can’t require them to do it, but most of them do it in the interest of safety,” Powell said.
Odessa District Engineer John Speed said these partnerships are an indicator of the companies’ deep commitment to the safety of their employees and their neighbors.
“The cost of these types of improvements can easily exceed seven figures, so it’s significant when a company is willing to pay for them,” Speed said. “These road changes will reduce the chances that accidents might occur around their facilities, so we’re thrilled to have this kind of partner in transportation safety.”
There are several other TxDOT projects going on across the district being funded. Texas’ Median barriers program, a U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation grant, and the Highway Safety Improvement Program are providing more than $91 million in funding for safety projects and overpasses expected to start in late 2019.
In December, two $25 million BUILD grants were awarded to the district for road projects in Winkler, Glasscock and Reagan Counties. One of them will fund a Winkler County project replacing an existing four-way stop with an overpass at SH 302 and SH 115, and the other grant will replace an existing four-way stop in Reagan County with an overpass at SH 158 and SH 137.
Other projects include a center median barrier being installed on Highway 191 between East Loop 338 and West Loop 250 expected to cost $2.3 million, and a 92.7 mile-long concrete barrier on Interstate 20 from FM 2053 in Ector County to Interstate 10 in Reeves County estimated to cost $37.3 million.