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Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority Orange Line Extension Irving 1 and Irving 2

Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority Orange Line Extension Irving 1 and Irving 2

Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority Orange Line Extension Irving 1 and Irving 2 - Irving, Texas

Extending Dallas/Fort Worth’s Light Rail System

Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART) has the largest light rail system in the country. DART’s 14-mile Orange Line is a key component of a regional rail expansion that will grow the rail network to 90 miles by 2014. The Orange Line parallels the Green Line through Downtown Dallas to Bachman Station in Northwest Dallas. From Bachman Station, the Orange Line heads northwest to the Las Colinas Urban Center (opened July 30, 2012) and continues west to the Belt Line Station in Irving (opened December 3, 2012). This mass transit system, an integral part of the intermodal transportation system for the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area, extends existing service to Irving and eventually will connect to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in 2014.

The DART procurement process broke the project into three segments and then packaged those three segments into two separate projects: Irving-1 and Irving-2 were combined into one project (I-1/2), and the Irving-3 section was assigned separately (I-3). In December 2008, DART awarded its first-ever design-build (DB) contract to Parsons as part of a joint venture (JV) to design and construct the new I-1/2 segments of the Orange Line extension through the City of Irving to the DFW airport property. Our team’s proposal had many innovative, cost-cutting solutions, which differentiated us from our competitors and ultimately led to our selection. For example, one of the major project challenges required the DB teams to bridge over a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers levee while relocating existing overhead high-voltage transmission lines. Our team developed a “thread the needle” solution that resulted in a pre-stressed, post-tensioned, spliced concrete girder system with a minimal profile to span the levee without relocating a large power transmission line. This approach significantly reduced both cost and schedule for our team’s proposal and was instrumental in our success.

The I-3 segment of the Orange Line extension was awarded to Parsons and its JV in December 2011. This extension will take the Orange Line from the DFW property edge directly to the DFW Terminal A, completing the link between downtown Dallas and this major international airport. Again, our team aggressively developed a unique alignment that reduced bridge structure while avoiding a right-of-way conflict with future Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) project development. This win-win solution was well received and demonstrated our team’s ability to provide unique solutions to complex transportation problems.

As lead designer for the JV, Parsons self-performed about half of the overall design work and managed the large contingent of disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) and minority- and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) subconsultants required to fulfill DART’s goal of 40% DBE/MWBE participation.

Safety and Sustainability Are Important

This project uses the JV’s safety program—guided by our commitment to zero incidents—and has a better safety record than any other current construction project in the DART network:

  • The office safety plan complies with START/SHARP, and the staff has been trained in office safety protocol.
  • All staff must take a DART safety training program.
  • All construction staff attend onsite training.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) is issued to all employees.
  • Subcontractor oversight includes incentive programs.

The DART Orange Line extension is yet another of our contributions to a sustainable transportation system. By extending the existing light rail system in the Dallas area through Irving all the way to DFW, this project reduces reliance on automobile travel for another segment of the region’s population—reducing carbon emissions—and paves the way to a cleaner, greener future for this bustling metropolitan area.

In addition to the environmental benefits inherent to a light rail system, Parsons, with its JV partner, used a joint document control system that drastically reduced the amount of paper used. Sustainability, however, involves more than decreasing the impact on the environment. It also emphasizes minimizing the impact on the community. Using several alternative technical concepts, Parsons saved DART $80 million, achieving both environmental benefits and economic sustainability.

Rendering of northeastern view of the expanded south runway with the bridge structures

Spliced beam erection over Trinity River levee

Solving Complex Coordination Issues

DART delegated to our JV the responsibility for obtaining approvals from the relevant authorities. Through diligent outreach, constant communication, and a partnering approach, we coordinated these intricate stakeholder issues with the many third-party entities that have interest/authority within the project corridor—keeping them apprised of our work progress while addressing and resolving each party’s concerns and needs.

Since 1997, Parsons has maintained an excellent working relationship with DART. The true strength of our design-build team is its people: our staff solves problems and provides solutions while remaining sensitive to customer and partner needs. Our team has extensive design-build experience and, working together on past projects, has developed the knowledge and understanding essential to a successful design-build team. We successfully apply the latest design and construction technologies to deliver cost-effective and innovative solutions for this complex project.