Originally published February 12, 2016
By Daniel Perez
The installation of two steel and concrete “pickaxe” monuments along Interstate 10 near The University of Texas at El Paso will affect vehicle traffic around the work zones near campus starting Feb. 15, 2016. The Texas Department of Transportation project should last about four months, weather permitting.
TxDOT crews will close a portion of the right westbound lane on the Schuster/University freeway off-ramp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Contractors will close both lanes on the off-ramp, past the Schuster exit, on occasions when heavy cranes or cement trucks will be in use. Motorists may use the Schuster exit ramp on those occasions. Workers will add dirt to raise the elevation for this monument. Workers will finish by adding an estimated 120 feet of metal guard railing.
Work on the second monument along the eastbound lanes of the freeway opposite the S-4 parking lot, north of University Avenue, will start a few weeks later. TxDOT crews will shut down one or two of the right-hand lanes about 500 feet before the Schuster Avenue exit ramp, which will not close due to construction. The number of affected lanes depends on whether the cranes and cement trucks are being used.
The illuminated monuments, named “Buried Pick,” will include a pickaxe with a handle set at a 75-degree angle. Each pick will be about 40 feet tall, 25 feet long and 12 feet wide. The letters U-T-E-P will be 3-1/2 feet tall and set in both sides of the axe handle. Native stone boulders will surround the steel bases. The expected cost of both monuments is $1 million.
Drivers are asked to slow down and use caution near the work zones. TxDOT will suspend work on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, for activities at the Sun Bowl Stadium tied to the visit by Pope Francis to Juárez, Mexico.