A $9.2 million rebuilding and widening of a 1.3-mile section of Lamar Boulevard has been opened for public use while final punch-list touches are finished, city officials say.
The decades-old, four-lane asphalt roadway in north Arlington is now a six-lane concrete thoroughfare from Collins Street to Ballpark Way — and a relief valve for traffic congestion in the area.
It also is the city’s second street reconstruction project to include switching to the more energy-efficient and brighter light-emitting diodes, which will soon begin replacing the longtime standard high-pressure sodium bulbs across the city.
The 7,000-foot Lamar project broke ground in July 2013 and opened in February, about four months late, said city project engineer Bob Watson.
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“The city does have a provision in the contract for liquidated damages,” Watson said. “The contractor will end up reimbursing the city for those missed days.”
The original grass median was wide enough for both the fifth and sixth traffic lanes to be built in the center, requiring only minimal additional right of way for the street improvements as well as new water and sewer lines and new sidewalks on both sides, including 1,900 feet of added sidewalk to fill in gaps, Watson said. The main exception was 12 feet of additional right of way needed along the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor property line, he noted.
The Lamar rebuild was one of the last remaining street projects funded by the 2008 bond program and a much-needed overhaul of a street built when Arlington was a much younger, smaller city, officials said.
“Lamar was originally constructed in the early ’80s and had reached the end of its useful life,” said Keith Melton, director of public works and transportation. “Due to the age of the roadway, it had really deteriorated to a point that it was no longer cost-effective to make repairs.”
Watson said 302 LED light fixtures were installed, two to a light pole.
The first LED streetlights in Arlington went up on North Collins Street, between Green Oaks Boulevard and the city limit, near the Viridian master-planned community. Viridian paid the city’s costs of installing the 82 lights, said Michael Aranas, interim field operations supervisor for signal maintenance and construction.
LED lighting also was installed as part of the Bowman Springs Road reconstruction south from Interstate 20, Aranas said.
The city also replaced red-yellow-green traffic-signal lights with colored LED lights 10 to 15 years ago, Melton said. And the city has been making energy-efficiency upgrades to its 20 buildings for several years.
The city has hired a contractor to begin converting 10,500 streetlights to LED along all arterial and collector streets throughout the city this month.
“The contractor will begin in northeast Arlington and move south,” Melton said. “The work will occur in the evenings to lessen the impact on traffic during the day.”
The $4.96 million LED streetlight installation is part of a $10.5 million package that includes energy-efficiency upgrades on 22 city buildings, work that is just getting underway. All the improvements will pay for themselves in energy savings over the next 15 years, Melton said. The streetlight work is scheduled to conclude late this year, and the conversion of residential streetlight fixtures will begin at a later date, he added.
Although LED lighting costs more, the price has dropped drastically in the past several years, and the diodes operate more than twice as efficiently, according to city officials and the federal Energy Department’s website.
The brighter light is white, which provides a truer replication of daylight than the yellow sodium lighting, Aranas said. “Also it spreads a whole lot better, whereas HPS lights make spots on the ground,” he added.
Los Angeles reported 63 percent energy savings and a significant decrease in nighttime crime from 2009 to 2011 after upgrading to LED lighting, according a city video on www.energy.gov.
The website reported that 49 million LEDs were installed in the the U.S. in 2012, saving about $675 million in annual energy costs.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641