Massive Construction Project Unfolds While You Sleep

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A billion dollars of roads and bridges take shape north of DFW Airport in the middle of the night. (Published Wednesday, Nov 17, 2010)

    When the sun sets in Grapevine, a new part of the city comes to life.

    It's one that few people see unless they drive along State Highway 114 and State Highway 121 in the darkest hours of the night.

    Road Construction After Dark

    [DFW] Road Construction After Dark
    A billion dollars of roads and bridges take shape north of DFW Airport in the middle of the night. (Published Wednesday, Nov 17, 2010)

    On any given night, more than 100 giant dump trucks crisscross the area. Giant beams weighing more than 50 tons are lifted into place. Hillsides of dirt disappear, while others rise from the ground. 

    It's known as the "DFW Connector" project, a complete reconstruction of the interchange north of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. When it's done, there will be 37 new bridges and a roadway that will be more than 20 lanes wide at one point more. 

    The Texas-sized project is being created in the darkness, out of sight from rush-hour commuters, to prevent traffic tie-ups and to make things safer for workers. 

    "Just to keep business and traffic flowing, you have to do it at night," said Rob Anderson, project director.

    The connector is the largest construction project in the United States funded with federal stimulus money. One quarter of the billion-dollar price tag is paid for by the feds. But even the cost doesn't give a true sense for the scope of what's under way.

    To put it in perspective, the amount of concrete being poured would cover an area the size of the American Airlines Center 170 times. The amount of dirt being moved would fill Cowboys Stadium in Arlington 20 feet deep.

    And it's all happening in four years, which is considered lightning speed for a project of its size.

    To the workers, the nighttime job presents some extra challenges, but some actually describe the busy overnight hours as "peaceful" because the roaring traffic is a reduced to a hum as most of the city sleeps.

    For several years to come, commuters will wake each morning to see a new look taking shape until project is complete.

    "People will be amazed and impressed and talk about it for years to come," said Ryan Keller, one of the construction supervisors with Northgate Constructors, which is designing and building the project.