TMS to benefit from highway expansion

Denton County officials, led by Commissioner Andy Eads, joined Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage on the property of the state’s largest sports venue Wednesday to unveil plans and take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $15 million State Highway 114 Expansion Project.

The project will focus on lane expansion on a key 2.95-mile stretch of State Highway 114 that fronts Texas Motor Speedway in an effort to make this portion of highway safer by widening its current configuration and improving traffic flow with increased capacity. This segment, which runs from Interstate 35W to FM 156, is primarily a two-lane road that will be expanded to four to six lanes of frontage roads through this 27-month project that is projected to be completed by September of 2013.

Eads and Gossage opened the announcement by arriving on giant land movers, with Gossage driving a rubber-tired wheel loader sporting the speedway’s “No Limits" logo on the bucket and Eads catching a ride on a bulldozer right beside it with the “Denton County SH 114 Expansion" logo. They were joined for the announcement by Northlake Mayor Pete Dewing, Roanoke Mayor Scooter Gierisch, Northwest ISD Superintendent Dr. Karen Rue and representatives from the offices of Congressman Michael Burgess, Senator Jane Nelson and Representative Tan Parker. The group closed the event with a ceremonial groundbreaking, where all the dignitaries planted a shovel into five yards of topsoil to officially kick off the project.

“This project has been nearly twenty years in the making," Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads said. “I am so pleased that the hard work of the 114 Task Force I created is paying off by finally getting this important project finally under construction. This is the first of three phases that will eventually include the expansion of the intersection of highways 156 and 114, and continue the widening of 114 from 156 to the Wise County line."

This first phase will be the construction of four new lanes of traffic (two eastbound, two westbound) from I-35W to the intersection of Highway 156. These lanes will serve as frontage roads when the corridor is eventually expanded and the interior main lanes are constructed. The remaining two phases will be the construction of the four-lane divided highway from highway 156 to the Wise County line, and the reconstruction of the intersection of 114/156 and relocation of the railroad tracks.

The contract was awarded to Mario Sinacola & Sons, which earned the project at $15,384,182 by bidding nearly 20 percent below the initial estimated construction costs of more than $19 million. Funding for this project came primarily from Denton County’s State Highway 121 toll revenue with minimal federal or state financial assistance.

This project was started in 1991 by Denton County, but did not gain major traction until Eads took office in January of 2007 and made SH 114 his top priority. He then established the State Highway 114 Task Force in 2008 to bring all parties together in an effort to expedite the letting of the project.

The project also will enhance the opportunity for future businesses to be constructed in the area and provide an additional economic impact to the county. Texas Motor Speedway is among the various current businesses and entities in which this expansion will have a positive effect. The project will improve ingress and egress to the speedway for its April and November NASCAR race weekends as well as its IndyCar Series one in June. As part of the partnership on this project between Denton County and Texas Motor Speedway, construction will be halted during those race weekends.

“We want to thank Denton County, and particularly Commissioner Andy Eads, for their leadership on this," Gossage said. “Texas Motor Speedway is one of the country’s largest sports venues. The widening of Highway 114 will make the roads safer when events are being held as well as during the rest of the year. Public safety and convenience are important factors to the quality of life for thousands of people in the area."

“We appreciate Denton County, the Texas Department of Transportation and contractor Mario Sinacola & Sons for recognizing the unique needs and demands at race time. By guaranteeing that construction will halt at race time they have ensured that this huge economic engine for North Texas will continue uninterrupted. It’s like hosting the Super Bowl year after year. It is critical to fan the flame of success instead of dousing it during the construction window."

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