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Contractor Works Out Traffic Kinks

Wed May 31, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Cynthia W. Wright

With Miami-Dade traffic being the third most congested in the nation, certain high volume areas demand immediate attention. The solution? Divert traffic up and over.

The county’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is in the midst of just such a split grade intersection project. Rodolfo R. Garcia, P.E. of the DOT holds the primary duty of managing and inspecting the project.

“We targeted the intersection of Biscayne Boulevard (U.S. 1) — the main artery — and N.E. 203 Street for major expansion due to the fact that this convergence is tremendously clogged, especially during rush hour,” explained Garcia.

This $2-million project began June 10, 1999, with a completion date scheduled June, 2001.

Gilbert Southern Corporation (GSC), prime contractor, is at this time bringing it in ahead of schedule. Todd Hamilton, GSC’s project engineer credits certain factors.

“For a project of this size we’ve had minimal conflicts. Most have been a matter of coordinating with a utility here and there. For instance, Florida Power and Light may have a certain line within our right-of-way which we’ve purchased for this project. We coordinate with them to have those lines relocated elsewhere. All the utilities have been great about cooperating,” said Hamilton. “So far weather has been on our side, too.”

“It’s a schedule-driven job. The DOT gives us an overall schedule which demands full completion by the deadline. If we fail, there’s liquidated damages,” continued Hamilton. “Any way we can find to build the project between now and June, 2001 is generally all right with DOT. Of course we must follow their restrictions of when we can and cannot close lanes, and encroach on traffic if we need to move large objects across the road.”

Gilbert Southern Corp. has imposed their own internal milestones that must be met in order to achieve its objective.

Hamilton explained the particular segments. “Basically, we have four main phases. If we make those deadlines we will finish on time. We developed those dates based on available manpower and other factors.”

“The big push is to shift into the second half of the job by June of this year. There’s a big phase line right down the middle of US 1. We build half of the approaches and half of the bridge structure. Once that’s complete we shift traffic onto that part while we build the other half. This overpass design allows us to get traffic off the ground and onto half of the new bridge while we build the other half,” he continued.

“Working six days a week, most of the activity is done behind concrete barriers so that traffic flows around us. The public may be inconvenienced a bit, but eventually the traffic situation will be much improved due to this overpass,” said Hamilton.

Currently Gilbert Southern Corp. has various kinds of equipment at work. Backhoes, loaders, dozers and rollers are in the fill, while cranes work on the structures on the bridge portion, and a lot of support equipment is on site.

Barrier wall, embankment and structural crews keep as many as 20 pieces of equipment in action at any given time.

Like many other major cities, Miami construction is destined to build up, not out. Numerous split grade interchanges are the path of its future.

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