Hialeah Firm Lays Groundwork for $137.5M Dolphin Expressway Job

Thu September 02, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

A $137.5 million project that is expected to ease traffic for West Miami-Dade commuters is currently under way.

Work involves the westward expansion of State Route 836 and the construction of a new segment of 137th Avenue north of Tamiami Trail. Groundbreaking for the 137th Avenue segment was held July 8.

The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) has hired Community Asphalt Corp. as the general contractor for the design/build project. Gannett Fleming Inc., headquartered in Harrisburg, PA, with an office in Miami, designed the project.

To relieve traffic on the roadway, especially during rush hour, the four lanes of S.R. 836, also known as the Dolphin Expressway, will be extended across Florida’s Turnpike just north of Northwest 12th Street. This portion will connect to the new six-lane extension of 137th Avenue from Tamiami Trail to the expressway.

According to Norbert Garcia, operations manager of Community Asphalt, work has just begun on the 137th Avenue portion of the project. “We have only started drainage work, which we self perform,” said Garcia. Currently, the company is using its backhoes and loaders for the drainage work. Garcia said his company’s equipment is made up of a variety of manufacturers, including Caterpillar, Komatsu and Volvo.

The 137th Avenue project will cost approximately $22.5 million with $18 million coming from MDX and $4.5 million supplied by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Construction will occur on a once-private two-lane road formerly owned by CSR Rinker Materials and used as a thoroughfare by rock miners and cement mixers.

Work on the 137th Avenue segment consists of a 1.6 mi. (2.56 km), six-lane arterial road that will run from Northwest 12th Street to Tamiami Trail. Additionally, Northwest 12th Street, which is a dead-end at this time, will be extended to create a new, 90-degree intersection at Northwest 137th Avenue to be used mainly by local traffic. Completion of this segment is expected in May 2005.

The S.R. 836 expansion portion is currently in the design phase, so groundbreaking has not occurred yet. This segment will cost $115 million, which will be paid for by MDX, the owner of the project. In addition to the extension of four lanes, seven new bridges will be erected and two bridges will be widened. Condotte America Inc. of Miami is the subcontractor that will be raising the bridges.

Community Asphalt will be building a right-of-way to accommodate future widening to six lanes, as a result new noise barrier walls will be erected where noise studies show they are warranted along homes east of 137th Avenue.

“Since we are bringing the roadway closer to the right-of-way,” explained Garcia, “we need to protect the neighborhoods [with noise barrier walls].”

The S.R. 836 portion will also include several retention ponds, which Garcia said are actually lakes. Additionally, the contractor will have to rebuild the slopes on one side of the Mud Creek Canal, a protected waterway.

When the project is finished, S.R. 836 will end at the off-ramps to 137th Avenue. Garcia said that the ramp will “be like a trumpet” in shape.

The completion deadline for the project is July 2007; however, Community Asphalt has a considerable incentive to finish early. According to the terms of the contract, there is a $20,000-per-day incentive to finish up to six months early, which would equal a $3.6 million bonus.

“We’re working toward that,” noted Garcia. “In order to get the bonus, we need to finish by Jan. 19, 2007.”

Of course, that would be for the largest bonus. It is prorated so that, for example, if the job were finished two days early, the company would receive a $40,000 bonus.

Even so, Garcia is optimistic. “We will be able to do it,” he said. “We are focusing on finishing it early.”

Community Asphalt Corp., founded in 1980, is based out of Hialeah, FL, where it also has an asphalt plant. It has additional offices and plants in Florida, located at Vero Beach and West Palm Beach. The company also has a quarry that produces FDOT-approved Limerock Base Materials.

In addition to backhoes and loaders, Community Asphalt has cranes, dozers, pavers, distributors, milling machines, graders and rollers. With its own fleet of dump trucks, the company does not have to rely on outside resources and can schedule work at its convenience. In addition, it has other supporting equipment such as vacuum sweepers, boom trucks, fuel trucks and truck mounted pressure cleaners.