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Westpark Tollway, 2006 OCEA
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The Nation's First All-Electronic Toll Road

The Westpark Tollway has become a vital east-west corridor for the greater Houston area - home to the highest concentration of EZ TAG customers. The project called for 38 separate construction contracts, over 300 complex utility relocations, and the use of a General Engineering Consultant to manage more than 30 firms, representing practically all areas of civil engineering. The primary engineering challenge was maintaining cost-effectiveness within the restrictive confines of a very limited right-of-way and project specifications to allow for four lanes of traffic. Designing for limited right-of-way meant many ramps and connectors were constructed below natural grade to reduce expenses and numerous retaining walls were used to accommodate restrictions of depressed roadways.

 

In order to construct the project, engineers faced more than 300 utility conflicts for which accommodations had to be made, including placing conduits through bridges for utility companies, conduit installations between drill shafts, paving over existing utilities, and constructing common utility bridge structures to allow for use by multiple utility companies. Also, in some areas, sound walls had to be constructed on top of the concrete traffic rail because of the exceedingly constricted right-of-way in these areas; in many locations the right-of-way is one foot from the back of the traffic rail. The Westpark Tollway received the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association’s Toll Excellence Award for Technology and its overall President’s Award for its cashless (EZ tag) collection system.

Photo: Eric Slotboom

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