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Florida ITS Job Nears Finish

Fri February 18, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

Completion is nearing for the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in Charlotte County. The federally funded $9.7 million design/build project began on March 9, 2009, with work by the design team from Metric Engineering. The contractor, InfraSource Inc., began the construction and installation of filed components on Nov. 3, 2009, with Chuck West serving as project manager. Full completion is expected in March 2011.

The project calls for the design, construction and integration of the ITS on I-75 through Charlotte County into the existing SWIFT SunGuide Center in Fort Myers in Lee County. The SWIFT SunGuide Center houses the Florida Highway Patrol Troop F and dispatch, FDOT staff, and the regional Motor Carrier Compliance Office, as well as staff to manage 511 and the ITS programs in southwest Florida. Construction of this building was part of the $35 million ITS project for I-75 through Collier and Lee Counties, where ITS went live on Jan. 19, 2010.

“Working adjacent to a high-speed, busy interstate presents challenges,” explained Debbie Tower, FDOT public information director. “Safety on each FDOT job is paramount, and crews take every precaution. Public information staff also has kept media informed about weekly work schedules so motorists using I-75 would be aware of construction activity and drive with care to protect their passengers, themselves and workers. The job is big — 24 miles — and coordinating crews and managing field activities well are what deliver successful projects. Ongoing, clear communication among the design/build team has been emphasized. FDOT’s Motor Carrier Compliance Office has a weigh-in-motion station on I-75 in Charlotte County, and close coordination kept it operational 24/7 without interruption. Lastly, integrating this system into the SWIFT SunGuide Center and doing final testing bring some challenges since the team is strongly focused on timely completion of the job.”

Tower explained that ITS projects require a team of people who know road construction, but who also are experienced with specialized equipment and can do specialized work.

“Crews installed fiber optics and conduit and they had to be experienced with electrical devices and connections and radio transmitters/receivers, for example,” she said. “Technical expertise with computer software is necessary to later phases of the job…integration of ITS roadway components/devices through SunGuide software to the SWIFT SunGuide Center is essential for the project’s success. The end result of the job must be that the staff can monitor I-75 traffic and roadway conditions 24/7/365 and display real-time traffic information to drivers on dynamic message signs along the interstate.”

Towers noted that preparation for the installation of the truss across four lanes of interstate immediately north of the Peace River Bridge began about three months early.

“The project team involved law enforcement and staff from Charlotte County and the city of Punta Gorda in meetings to plan for this nighttime/overnight work requiring lane closures, the bridge closure, and detours for northbound and southbound interstate traffic,” Towers said. “Over several days in advance, InfraSource crews removed overhead signs and placed them and two large dynamic message signs on the truss. Weather cooperated, and using a 120-ton crane to handle the truss, crews finished installation and bolting up very quickly in this one night/overnight work period.

“Maintenance of traffic also went well,” she continued. “This construction activity required close coordination, good cooperation among the team and with city and county transportation partners and excellent communication. Months of planning resulted in a productive, critically important night’s work.”

The entire project required the installation of 33 closed-circuit TV cameras, 49 roadside sensors, 10 dynamic message signs, and a road weather information system. In addition, mowing to complete a “clean” work zone was done along 24 mi. (38.6 km) of I-75 in Charlotte County. The job involved 230 cu. yds. (175.8 cu m) of Class I concrete for pads and 1,200 cu. yds. (917 cu m) of sod.

On average, crews number 10 to 15 people in the field throughout the project. According to Tower, more than 50 people comprised the design/build team responsible for the job. Their responsibilities included material submittals reviews, system integration, computer programs/software compatibility reviews, and testing for all devices.

Mammoth Constructors Inc. completed all the earth drilling to install the massive drilled shafts/foundations for the dynamic message signs. Their local office is in Umatilla, Fla.

SSI Inc. installed the conduit truck line for the entire length of the 24-mi. job in just 12 days. Tower noted that InfraSource contracted SSI from Alberta, Canada, because of the company’s unique equipment, a vibrating plow capable of installing multiple conduit in any terrain/grade at a quick pace and leaving very little ground disturbance.

PCS, which is based in Winter Garden, Fla., installed, connected, spliced and tested all fiber optic cable for the job.

For InfraSource, the equipment list included skid steers, backhoes, pickup trucks, boom trucks, crane trucks, bucket trucks, reel trailers, dump trucks and mini track hoes.

SSI/Spider Plow used dump trucks, reel trailers and the spider plow. PCS used reel trailers, pickup trucks, splicing trucks, box vans, an OTDR testing truck and fiber optic cable blowing machines.

For Mammoth, the equipment list included a Watson 1000 drill rig with a torque in excess of 40,000 ft.-lbs. and a maximum depth of 35 ft. (10.7 m); a Watson 2100 drill rig with a torque in excess 54,000 ft.-lbs. and a maximum depth of 64 ft. (19.5 m); a Bayshore Lodrill DH18-36 with a torque in excess of 18,000 ft.-lbs. and a maximum depth of 36 ft. (11 m); a CAT excavator with a working height of 13 ft. (4 m); a boom truck, 14 ton (12.7 t) or larger with a tank on the boom truck for additional water storage; a 4,000-gal. (15,142 L) water truck if required; a CAT backhoe and Lora John Deere 310G; an F-450 and /or an F-350 support truck with 10,000 lb. (4,536 kg) GVW support trailer; a 12-in. (30.5 cm) diameter sectioned tremie pipe; a slurry mixing system with mud gun, mixing tank, circulation pumps and a de-sander; jack mounted surface forms with 42- and 60-in. (107 and 152 cm) diameters; split steel forms with 42- and 60-in. diameters; 42- and 60-in. auger bits, and a bailing bucket with 38- and 56-in. diameters. CEG

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