'Invisible fence' monitors construction gear at highway project

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by WENDY CORONA

WFAA

Posted on October 16, 2012 at 11:01 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 10 at 2:32 AM

GRAPEVINE — The DFW Connector project is eight miles of construction, and essentially the rebuilding of State Highways 114 and 121, just north of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Jose Guzman drives it daily. He says you can see there's something really special being built here.

Work on the project continues around the clock, and it needs lots of special equipment and materials to get it done.

"They build mountains out here," said commuter Patrick Burns. "You can come out here in another week and there'll be another mountain, another roadway built. They're doing a good job."

Even with the 24-hour activity, thefts have happened on site. The latest one was on Monday night, when metal crossbars worth a few thousand dollars were snatched.

"Essentially, we just want to find our equipment, find our vehicles and get back to work," said Kristen Schropp, spokeswoman for the DFW Connector project.

Northgate Constructors, the lead company on this project, isn't taking any chances with theft or getting behind schedule.

"We set up this invisible fence," Schropp explained. "Any time our equipment or vehicles are outside of that geo-fence, we actually are sent an alert so that we know we need to go after that piece of equipment."

Vehicles, equipment and materials are all tracked by GPS and the vast majority are recovered.

That's what happened with one trailer taken from the site just a few weeks ago.

"Using our tracking devices, we were able to find that trailer — with the material still on it — and bring it back to the job site so we could get back to work," Schropp said.

We asked to see the tracking equipment at work, but were denied. Northgate does not want thieves getting wind of how they keep tabs on all of their things.

The DFW Connector project is expected to be 85 percent complete by year's end, with completion ahead of schedule by midsummer 2013.

E-mail wcorona@wfaa.com

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