At Least 35 Dead in Bridge Collapse

Incentives Have Archer Western Aiming for Deadline

Fri October 28, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Bonnie L. Quick



As with most of the road jobs in the Gulf Coast states, the SR 80 portion of the I-95 Interstate project has suffered from delays due to both the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.

The project, located in Palm Beach County, FL, has lost 23 construction days and the hurricane season is not over until the end of November. While most of the delays were from the 2004 season, Dennis and Katrina caused short stoppages this year.

“A big problem for us on this job is that we are working in the Stub Canal on flexi-float sectionals that create barges for our large cranes,” said Sam Joiner, of Archer Western, the lead contractor. “Every time we have a threat of hurricanes or tropical storm weather, we have to break apart the barges and remove all equipment from the canal to prepare the canal for an immense amount of increased flow. We also have to ’safe-up’ the job site to avoid flying debris. It takes about two days to dismantle the barges and two days to rebuild.”

Even with hurricane clean-up jobs taking up more of the tight labor market in the southeast and material shortages, the job remains on schedule.

Almost miraculously, crews hope to complete the SR 80 project on time or even a little ahead as part of the $400-billion highway upgrade of I-95 through Florida. The SR 80 portion began in March 2004 and is scheduled for completion by October 2006.

“Our crews are working on a tight schedule and, to date, are right on it. We have already won two incentive bonuses for exit ramps at $150,000 each,” said Joiner. “I am very proud of the way our crews stepped up to help repair damage caused by the 2004 hurricane season. A number of our guys showed up before the weather had fully passed to repair sections along I-95 that were actually within the limits of another contractor’s project.”

The limits of this project extend on I-95 from south of SR 80, also known as Southern Boulevard, to north of Southern Boulevard and SR 80 from Gem Lake Drive to Parker Avenue, approximately .6 mi. The project includes major interchange improvements at SR 80, which called for new bridges over I-95 and the railroad tracks, as well as resurfacing, structural work signing, signalization, landscaping and lighting.

“The I-95/SR 80 project is a fairly standard interstate interchange that is being entirely re-built,” said Joiner. “This includes new bridges over the Stub Canal and over I-95. Each bridge is being replaced in two major longitudinal phases.”

Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) walls and drainage at the northbound entrance ramp are placed by top loaders. Bulldozers, excavators, compactors and other equipment help create drainage at the retention ponds. Drill shaft installation and substructure work continues at the north section of SR 80 for both bridges.

“We are doing all the usual types of operations here, using several Manitowoc cranes, from 120 to 220 ton capacity, excavators, bulldozers, front end loaders, road laying equipment —nothing unusual. Although one of our VE proposals did add a large amount of excavation to create a zone for the MSE walls.”

The project is currently in Phase III.

“The contractor installed MSE wall panels, placed and compacted material for the embankment, formed and placed concrete for gravity wall at west section of roadway, installed turbidity barriers, installed sheet piling at west bank of Stub Canal and cleared and grubbed,” stated the July report compiled by I-95 Mobility 2000. “On main line I-95, the contractor excavated and installed drainage structures, back-filled and compacted and placed concrete for structure inverts and installed structure tops. On the I-95 ramps, the contractor continued removing and placing sheet piles at Ramp L. On the SR 80 bridge the contractor continued bridge demolition of the east-end bent, pulverized concrete from demolition excavated and installed steel cage and concrete for four drilled shafts at pier 2 in the median of I-95.”

Concrete product shortage, particularly cement, which appears to be a regional issue, continues to impact the contractor’s operations, but is not causing major delays, according to Joiner.

Archer Western submitted three Value Engineering Cost Proposals, which will create a shared savings of $2.8 million.

Among the revisions were the substitution of concrete AASHTO girders for steel girders, the redesign of walls on southbound entrance and exit ramps from permanent steel sheet piling with concrete facia to standard MSE walls and the elimination of six of eight proposed major traffic switches involving I-95 traffic.

The no-excuse contract includes a completion bonus of up to $1.75 million if work is completed in 848 days from the start.

“It is an all or nothing, ’no-excuse’ bonus. There is no disincentive built in, we either do it or we don’t,” said Joiner. “I am confident that our crews will continue to work as hard as they have been on this tight schedule to complete on or ahead of time.” CEG