Hurst and Euless officials were surprised to learn that all lanes and frontage roads of the North Tarrant Express reconstruction project will be built with asphalt rather than concrete.
Hurst City Manager Allan Weegar said he doesn't understand why the Texas Department of Transportation would allow use of a road material that his city has discontinued in favor of concrete because of maintenance issues.
"From a city manager's perspective, what I've seen in nearly every urban project ... is that there's a reason TxDOT is putting concrete on streets," Weegar said. "Why should it be different with this project?"
Euless Public Works Director Ron Young was also puzzled when he heard this month that the contractor will use asphalt on the 13.5-mile makeover of Northeast Loop 820 and Texas 121/183.
"I had assumed all along that it would be concrete," Young said. "I thought TxDOT built all-concrete roads."
Officials with the department and NTE Mobility Partners, which is overseeing the $2.5 billion project, declined to discuss which material is more durable.
But department spokesman Tony Hartzel said the project's contract doesn't stipulate what material is used.
"We stipulate the ride smoothness and ride quality," he said. "Asphalt is smoother, it's quieter."
Robert Hinkle, spokesman for NTE Mobility Partners, said engineers chose asphalt because it's cost-efficient at the outset and it's easier to maintain.
"The engineers are telling me that asphalt is not as expensive to put down as concrete in the beginning," Hinkle said. "In the operations and maintenance, it's a lot easier to deal with asphalt than concrete."
Steve Hankins, the company's design and construction director, said that before the asphalt is laid, the road base will be rebuilt using crushed concrete from the old lanes.
Road bases will be up to 3.5 feet thick, with asphalt 6 to 8.5 inches thick, depending on whether they're frontage, general-purpose or managed lanes, Hankins said.
"The total thickness is similar to a concrete-paved road," he said.
The North Tarrant Express contract specifies that the project be finished in five years, which is another good reason to use asphalt, Hartzel said.
"If they're doing it with asphalt, they can do it quicker," he said.
Still, city officials say they are concerned because roads that will eventually become their responsibility may not be rebuilt to city standards.
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620