I-95 Project Gives St. Johns’ Drivers Some Elbow Room

Mon May 10, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Cynthia W. Wright

Adjusting to St. Johns County’s rapid growth, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is widening 35 mi. of I-95 at a cost of $84 million. Funds are being provided by FDOT and the Federal Highway Administration.

The construction, which began on July 8, 2002, does not come too soon for county residents. Crashes on that roadway killed 21 people in 1999, designating the St. Augustine area of I-95 as the deadliest stretch of highway in northeast Florida.

“We assessed the problem and took action,” said Sandra Mancil of FDOT. “We’re taking the roadway from a four-lane highway to a six lane. Adding this capacity will make it a much safer drive.”

Mancil noted that guardrails and shoulders are being added in the median. Crews are also milling and resurfacing existing lanes, ramps and shoulders.

“We’re upgrading some of the interchanges by actually lowering the road beneath them to make the clearances higher,” she said. “We’re improving some of the intersections and we’ve landscaped the entire project.”

Work began from the Duval County line to just south of Florida 207 in the St. Augustine area.

“The schedule planned to give motorists the six-lane I-95 in northern St. James County in late winter –– just in time for Bike Week. The popular Daytona Beach motorcycle event always increases traffic at that peak tourist time,” said Mancil.

The job involves crews working three projects simultaneously. The northern segment, from Duval County line to International Golf Parkway, was awarded to Superior Construction Co., which teamed with Parsons Transportation Group. Both companies are located in Jacksonville, FL.

This segment included two bridge replacements over county roads, said Mancil.

The central segment, from the parkway to just south of S.R. 207, was designed and constructed by Connelly & Wicker of Jacksonville and Anderson Columbia Co. of Lake City, FL. Ranger Construction of Daytona Beach, FL, and Jacobs Civil Inc., Jacksonville, won the bid for the southern portion, which is the largest and most expensive segment of the project.

FDOT hired Earth Tech to perform CEI services.

“These projects had a different delivery system,” said John Rogero, Earth Tech project administrator. “They were design-built, part of a new delivery the department uses to move projects along faster while trying to control costs.

“Since it’s a typical section with a lot of repetition, with only a few design pages approved and in place, you can take it from scope to breaking ground much quicker,” he said.

Rogero also noted that these type of projects help boost the local economy.

“Such things as drainage take longer, but when you’re widening to the inside, you can begin boxing out and doing your earth work and stabilization right away,” he said. “[FDOT] stepped full force into contractor quality control. We were out of the gate faster in this district about six months earlier than the rest of the projects in this district.”

Tony Williams, Anderson Columbia Co. vice president, explained the project’s schedules are subject to adjustments.

“Right now we’re in a holding pattern,” said Williams. “All [Anderson Columbia] has left to do on the job is to put the friction coarse on it. The coarse requires [the temperature to be] 60 degrees. Due to unusually low temperatures this spring, we weren’t able to accomplish that.”

At press time, Williams said he anticipated this process to begin around May 5. It should take a little more than a month to complete.

For the friction, the company uses Roadtec shuttle buggies to transfer the materials and Blaw-Knox paving machines.