VRX, Inc. has received two prestigious honors for our environmental compliance management services on 35Express. Our 2018 ACEC National and 2018 ACEC Texas awards entry focused on our environmental services on Segment 3. We are thrilled to have received both ACEC National Recognition and an ACEC Texas Engineering Excellence Gold Medal.
The Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT’s) $1.4 billion fast-track 35Express project added capacity to relieve congestion on 30 miles of IH 35E through 8 cities and 2 counties. Segment 3 involved constructing a bridge over Lewisville Lake during severe flooding. VRX, Inc. provided successful environmental compliance management/inspection, natural resource management, and environmental training, among other services.
VRX worked in partnership with client AGL Constructors JV, owner TxDOT, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to solve multiple challenges on Segment 3:
- Construction of this project converted some park land to transportation use. The environmental approvals and 35Express contract documents required mitigation fee payments to the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area. This compensatory mitigation was due to the loss of vegetation and habitat on USACE property. However, after construction began, VRX learned that the USACE instead preferred on-site mitigation to the fee payment. VRX worked with AGL, TxDOT and the USACE to develop the On-Site Mitigation Plan for proposed impacts to natural resources. VRX’s plan achieved all project needs and made sure to avoid any construction delays to keep this important mobility project moving forward. VRX’s plan called for preserving 3+ acres of mature Post Oaks on USACE property, augmenting a walking trail by planting 1,281 native trees and shrubs (30 acres worth), and adding milkweed seeds to the native grass mixture to provide new habitat for the Monarch Butterfly, which has seen decreasing populations.
- The replacement of certain culverts presented a unique challenge to balance compliance with environmental rules, environmental stewardship, and public safety. Temporary culverts were replaced to ensure the stability of Highland Village Road, but the new culvert elevation would change the landscape of USACE property and potentially impact local fishery. VRX and AGL used construction materials on hand to make devices to protect fish, turtles, and other aquatic creatures from harm during dewatering activities. Protection of these resources is not only required by law, but is necessary to maintain aquatic ecosystems in the environments where we live. Using materials already on-site allowed VRX to avoid increasing project costs and impacting the schedule.
- VRX, in coordination with TxDOT and TPWD, developed a decontamination plan and training program to stop invasive zebra mussels, which were discovered in Lewisville Lake. The plan called for decontamination of all barges, boats, construction equipment, and temporary fill used in the lake. VRX provided on-site training and handouts in English and Spanish to teach construction crews how to prevent the spread of zebra mussels, which can impact public drinking water resources.
- The Segment 3 bridge construction occurred during the highest rainfall on record – 62 inches – in Denton County. Storms and high rainfall caused severe flooding, leading FEMA to designate Denton County a disaster area in 2015. VRX addressed this challenge by remaining on alert about potential environmental issues stemming from the flooding and provided exceptionally diligent environmental compliance throughout the project. VRX’s efforts ensured that 35Express construction activities complied with applicable federal, state, and local environmental regulations – even during the height of the flooding.