From: City Manager
Underpass Project pushed to 2024
Due to the Underpass Project being pushed into 2024, I wanted to provide an update as to where we are with the project and why the construction has been pushed out a year.
Why the Delay: Due to the unprecedented increase in the cost of materials and construction, TxDOT advised us the underpass project would be pushed out one year to ensure funding is available to complete the project. While this news is very disappointing it is not completely unexpected. The positive aspect is, it gives our project team more time to resolve a few remaining engineering conflicts and find creative ways to reduce the cost of construction.
Project Update: Most people may not know, or remember, this project is part of our Downtown Master Plan and there has been a team working on the underpass project ever since that plan was adopted. While I have stated many times, this is the most consequential and transformative project our city will ever undertake, it is also the most complex and challenging project we will ever undertake. I want to reassure you that during this time, the project team has had to overcome significant engineering challenges, and find creative solutions that are acceptable to both Union Pacific and TxDOT. Although we are funding the design and engineering, Union Pacific, TxDOT and NCTCOG are funding the construction. As you know, whomever is paying for the construction is in the drivers’ seat when it comes to design and engineering requirements.
The project team is working parallel paths to produce the two engineering plan sets required by TxDOT and Union Pacific. The TxDOT plan set is for road, bridge design and traffic control. The Union Pacific plan set is for track and bridge design. Some of you may remember this project began with a single railroad bridge that accommodated two tracks but due to the clear height requirement and the unexpected addition of a third track now requires two separate bridges, one for the railroad and one for East Main Street. The TxDOT plan set is at 60% and is ready to be updated to 95% once the last few conflicts with the Union Pacific plans are reconciled. Once both plan sets are 100% and utilities have been cleared from the construction area the project will be ready for bidding.
The current construction cost estimate is at least $50 million (funded by Union Pacific, TxDOT, NCTCOG and Grants). The Cities commitment is for design and engineering with $4.2 million expended to date.
We are currently working on special contract provisions and a business support program whose aim is to ensure all downtown businesses open before the project begins are still open after the project is completed.
I am painfully aware this has been a long and very difficult process but once the underpass project is completed, it will permanently clear traffic congestion at the railroad crossing, ensures our downtown fully revitalizes and prohibits large trucks driving through our historic downtown. This project will ensure the heart of our city, our historic downtown, regains the economic prominence it once had and stays that way!
Ennis City Manager