Ajax Paving Clears Way for Safer Travel On, Alongside U.S. 92

Wed August 12, 2009 - Southeast Edition
Kerry Lynn Kirby

A Kawasaki 70Z loader loads dirt into a dump truck.
A Kawasaki 70Z loader loads dirt into a dump truck.

A $28.2 million resurfacing project under way on U.S. 92 from Eureka Springs Road to Thonotasassa Road (SR 566) in Hillsborough County, Fla., was designed to make the two-lane road safer for both motorists and pedestrians, according to prime contractor Ajax Paving Industries Inc. of Florida’s Joe Minich.

“This project will provide safer travel for the pedestrian with the creation of the sidewalk and boardwalk and also will provide safety for the traveling public with the addition of the 4-foot shoulders,” said Minich, project manager for the Nokomis, Fla.-based company.

The job covers 12.5 mi. (20.1 km) on U.S. 92/SR 600, from Tampa to Plant City, Fla.

It’s a mill and resurface job, he said, with the addition of a 4-ft. (1.2 m) paved shoulder on both sides of the roadway, new signalization (poles and mast arms) at eight intersections, 6 mi. (9.7 km) of sidewalk and 5.5 mi. (8.9 km) of boardwalk, ditch grading, 4,000 linear ft. (121.9 m) of water line, 2,500 linear ft. (762 m) of storm pipe and four pedestrian bridges.

When the U.S. highway was identified as needing to have the pavement milled and resurfaced, the Florida Department of Transportation’s planners studied the crash data and made improvements to the road’s design, such as adding paved shoulders to both sides of the road for safety, said Kris Carson, a spokesperson for FDOT’s District Seven.

Sidewalks to School

The sidewalks became part of the project based on input from Hillsborough County, which voiced concerns about students walking to and from school at Bryan Elementary, Armwood High, Tomlin Middle, Burnett Middle and Seffner Christian without sidewalks.

“There are several schools in the area where it was identified children are walking along the edge of the road,” she said, noting a new school under construction will add to the foot traffic. “The sidewalks will make this much safer.”

The job also entails widening the U.S. 92/CR 579 intersection and replacing the existing traffic signals with upgraded ones that include pedestrian features.

The U.S. 92/CR 579 intersection widening includes adding a right turn lane from westbound U.S. 92 to northbound CR 579, adding another left turn lane from southbound CR 579 to eastbound U.S. 92, and adding an additional through-lane on eastbound U.S. 92 crossing over CR 579.

“Our goal is to improve what we can without purchasing right of way,” Carson said. “We are making improvements to widen southbound CR 579 [Mango Road] to provide longer turning lanes for two left turns and also widen State Road 600 [U.S. 92] to provide an eastbound through-lane and a westbound right lane at CR 579.

“This will help move traffic more efficiently,” she said.

No widening projects for this area of U.S. 92 are planned through the year 2020.

“Because widening is not programmed in the near future, it is our intention to do as much as we can to improve the area now, which is the purpose of this project.”

Design Challenges

The job posed a number of design challenges, one of them being working around the right-of-way limitation, said Frank E. Proch, project administrator of AIM Engineering & Surveying Inc. in Tampa.

The highway features a roughly half-and-half mixture of residential and commercial development, with many small lots with mom-and-pop businesses coming right to about the right-of-way rule.

Along the route are homes, gas stations, convenience stores, seasonal RV parks, even a strawberry farm.

The boardwalk area also poses a little bit of a challenge avoiding utilities.

Lane closures are not permitted between 6:30 and 9:30 a.m. or between 2 and 7:30 p.m. These restricted work hours mean contractors have to alternate shifts, with asphalt work being done at night, when a 10-hour shift is possible without causing a major disruption to traffic.

“Boardwalk and sidewalk work can be done in the daytime,” Proch said, “although with the limited right of way, you can run out of room to put equipment.”

Workers on the job have ranged from 20 to 75 people working at any one time.

There have been some limited delays when one-way traffic is occurring, but no major impacts.

Work on the job started April 1, 2008. It is expected to be finished in fall 2010.

The job is currently 390 days ahead of schedule and approximately 70 percent of the work is already completed.

Getting through the last hurricane season without delays is partly to credit, as are the partner sessions that “keep things moving,” Minich said. “There’s a lot of good communication going on.”

The resurfacing on U.S. 92/SR 600 calls for 2 in. (5.08 cm) of Type SP structural course (Traffic C) topped with 1.5 in. (3.81 cm) of rubber friction course FC-12.5 (Traffic C).

Minich said 35,000 cu. yd. (26,759 cu m) of earth have been moved on the job, with the majority of that being excess cut from the job.

A total of 70,000 tons (63,503 t) of asphalt will be placed.

Subcontractors working on the project include: Transportation Structures Inc. of Tampa, boardwalk, sidewalk and bridges; Highway Safety Devices Inc. of Tampa, signalization, guardrail and handrail; Kamminga & Roodvoets Inc. of Tampa, storm drainage and utilities; Turtle Southeast Inc. of Largo, Fla., milling; Traffics Services Inc. of Plant City, Fla., signs, striping and thermoplastic; and Highway Safety Devices of Tampa, MOT Devices. CEG

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