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Sam Houston Drive project comes in under estimate

By DAVID TEWES
Aug. 17, 2010 at 3:17 a.m.


IN OTHER ACTIONThe council also took the first step in prohibiting the sale or giving away of animals from an outdoor location visible from an arterial or collector street.

The vote came after residents complained about sick, diseased and mistreated animals, such as dogs, being sold from private property along Navarro Street.

A second vote is required before the ordinance becomes final.

The Sam Houston Drive reconstruction project should be completed in about half the time and for millions under what the engineer had estimated.

"The contractor has told us that they intend to mobilize a large number of construction workers so they can move a lot faster than we had anticipated," said Lynn Short, the city's public works director.

He said work is expected to begin in October or November and will take about 22 months to complete. The engineer had estimated three years for completion.

The engineer had also estimated the cost at about $22 million. The city council Tuesday awarded a contract for $18 million to SER Construction Partners Ltd. of Pasadena to rebuild most of Sam Houston.

"It's the economy," said Jimmy Roach, the city's deputy director of public works. "The contractors are really striving to get jobs."

Roach has said the company will rebuild a 2.2-mile stretch between Laurent Street and the Houston Highway. It's going to be paved with concrete, similar to the rebuilt sections of Ben Jordan and Laurent streets.

The rest of the Sam Houston had been repaved in concrete in an earlier project.

Roach said while construction will take less time than anticipated, he understands it will still be an inconvenience for businesses and residents on Sam Houston.

"Anytime you do a rehab on the street, the businesses do suffer and we realize that," he said. "We vow to keep at least one driveway to each business open during that period of time."

Short said SER plans to bring its own concrete plant for the project. "They'll have control of their concrete deliveries that way."

There's not much difference between the price of asphalt and concrete now, but in the long run it will be a savings because it last longer and require less maintenance, Roach said.

Consulting engineer Ben Galvan with Victoria-based Civil Corp. said the concrete street should last 50 years if it's properly maintained. That compares to 20 years for an asphalt street that has been maintained.

The work will include redoing the sanitary sewer, storm sewer, water lines, curbs, gutters and sidewalks. It will also include new signal lights and traffic signs.

Galvan said there will also be design changes at some intersections. The side roads that intersect Sam Houston at a skewed angle will be changed to a 90-degree angle, he said.

That should improve visibility and safety for the drivers, he said.

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