Short Road Extension is Long on Challenges

By Kevin Wilcox

The new extension to University Boulevard now under construction in Sugar Land, Texas, is only 0.5 mi
long, but there are an extraordinary number of engineering challenges in that half a mile, including a new rail crossing at grade, an elevated water line, and a bridge that spans a Union Pacific Railroad line and a stream named Oyster Creek.

When complete, the fourlane divided highway will provide a crucial link in a rapidly developing part of this city of more than 100,000 residents near the Gulf Coast. The surrounding area is home to Constellation Field, the city's minor league baseball stadium, a large Nalco Champion chemical facility, and a new mixeduse development on 700 acres of land surrounding a former Imperial Sugar refinery site.

The project will provide an important connection to Route 90A, diverting traffic from neighborhood surface streets and facilitating an expansion of the Nalco facility for an additional 1,200 employees, according to Christopher Steubing, P.E., M.ASCE, the city engineer.

The project draws funding from several sources, including the city, Fort Bend County, and Johnson Development Corp., a Houston-based land developer. The team hired the engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc., headquartered in Houston, to address a number of formidable engineering challenges, among them poor geotechnical conditions along the alignment.

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