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Interstate 95 Improvements Part of $400 Million ’Mobility 2000’ Project

Thu September 01, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Bonnie L. Quick

As with most of the Interstate 95 corridor in Florida, changes and upgrades need to take place periodically in order to keep up with the steady population growth, the growing traffic flow, the damage from tropical storms and hurricanes and general heat and moisture damage that plague all Florida roadways.

Florida is one of the fastest growing states in the country. The population has doubled since 1970 to more than 15 million today. The challenge is to meet transportation needs generated by a growing population and economy. Between 1980 and 1997 total vehicle miles increased 99 percent but state highway lanes rose only 20 percent, according to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

Through Mobility 2000, Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature advanced many needed projects on the Florida Intrastate system, which includes the Interstates, Florida’s Turnpike, other expressways and major arterial highways by providing new funding for road building.

Under the 2000 Initiative, Florida’s citizens, visitors and businesses will benefit from the advanced completion of nearly $4 billion worth of improvements to the Florida Intrastate highway system over the next 10 years, in three major areas without raising taxes:

• Expansion of major roadway trade and tourism corridors

• Urban congestion relief

• Hurricane and other emergency evacuation routes near coastal areas.

In Palm Beach County, approximately 30 mi. of I-95 will be widened and resurfaced in eight different projects. The $400-million budget for I-95 Mobility 2000 project will be used to replace roadway surfaces by milling and resurfacing through mainlines, shoulders, ramps, side streets and ramp terminals along the corridor. The work will include removing and replacing damaged guardrails, as well as bridge anchorage assemblies throughout the project. The construction also includes shoulder widening and concrete median barrier installation.

In addition, drainage structures will be replaced as needed in all eight projects. Also, signs, pavement markings and communication elements will be upgraded and replaced with the latest technology.

“As a whole this project is progressing nicely, with the contractors really being fueled by the numerous incentive/disincentive bonuses for early completion set forth by the FDOT,” explained Andrea Pacini, public information officer for I-95 Mobility 2000.

“A project of this magnitude requires a lot of coordination and cooperation. Communication with the seven [remaining] contractors performing this work as well as with the public and media will definitely be key to the success of this project.”

The I-95 Mobility 2000 Project office completed the first of its eight projects along the I-95 corridor in November 2003. Project 8 was approximately 9 mi. in length extending from the PGA Boulevard North to the West Palm Beach/Martin County Line.

Construction was completed ahead of schedule (in 258 days) and Ranger Construction Industries, the contractor, obtained the incentive set out in the contract for completing the project ahead of schedule. The daily incentive amount was $5,000 per day, with a maximum payout of $200,000. Ranger completed the work 32 days ahead of schedule and received a $160,000 bonus. This was a lump sum design-build project.

During this project, more than 852 mi. (1,300 km) of milled asphalt and 112 million lbs. (50.8 million kg) of asphalt were used. More than 380,000 linear ft. (115,000 m) of new striping was placed. More than 3 million lbs. (1.4 million kg) of steel and 17 million lbs. (7.7 million kg) of concrete will be used to widen the Lake Worth Viaduct Bridge.

The seven sections yet to be completed on the I-95 Mobility 2000 project run from the Broward County line in the south of PGA Boulevard, more than 20 miles.

The first part of the work from Broward County line to Linton Boulevard was completed in June 2005. Total completion date is June 2009. In July 2004, construction began on the 1.8-mi. (2.9 km) section along the Project Limits on I-95 from 12th Avenue south to 10th Avenue north.

Project 6, from north of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard to north of Blue Heron Boulevard, approximately 4.6 mi. (7.4 km) started in November 2004. Project 7 began in late 2002 and is scheduled for completion in 2006.

“We are now finishing up Phase 2 of this project, and should begin Phase 3 before the end of the year,” said Ted Ferguson, project manager of Project 6 (I-95 from Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard to north of Blue Heron Boulevard). “Heath Bunn, project engineer, and I started in June 2004 doing all the initial submittals, set-ups of subcontractors, purchase orders, budget and tracking. Construction began in November 2004. Our starting date delayed two months due to the storms of 2004 hurricane season. Luckily, Dennis did not effect us this year.

“We are about 200 days ahead of contract. Our anticipated finish date is February 2008. So far, by our value engineering proposals we are more than $1 million below budget. These are shared savings with the state and that is how much money we have returned to the state.

“We anticipate earning a bonus using the incentive programs set up in contract. We have to finish in 1,200 days to get the bonus which could be as much as $2 million,” continued Ferguson. “We have a good team and are doing great.”

Speeders have created an unnecessary challenge for the contractors.

“Our biggest obstacle remains something beyond our control. Speeders who drive through a construction zone at 90 miles an hour continue to put our workers and themselves in danger,” Ferguson said.

Some of the equipment used on this project includes three Volvo L-90 and L-120 loaders, Caterpillar 330 and 320 excavators, John Deere 550 and 700 dozers, two Dynapac 262s, three Link-Belt 218 and 238 cranes, an APE diesel hammer D3632, and two Terex off-road haulers.

“Of course, there are also water trucks to keep dust down, motorgraders and a variety of other equipment to help with paving,” Ferguson said.

Project 7

Construction Manager Jeff Moore heads up Project 7, which runs from north of Blue Heron Boulevard to south of PGA Boulevard, for approximately 2.6 mi. The lead contractor is URF of Miami.

“We are currently ahead and on track,” Moore said. “This project calls for widening to 10 lanes and building three bridges. We have constructed two miles of sound wall and are ready to flip into the next phase which will be redoing of the median while keeping the traffic flowing.”

So far, crews have recycled all excavated road materials and have imported 250 cu. yds. of dirt for roadway retaining walls.

“Since we are one of the first contractors on the corridor that will be finished, we deleted the friction course from the HOV lanes because our section is only three miles long,” Moore said. “The friction course is the final layer to go on a roadbed and has to be driven on in order to last. It will be done at the completion of the 30 miles.”

The total project will widen the highway from six lanes to 10 and create a high speed, high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane. As with every road project the maintenance of traffic flow is a priority. In order to keep inconvenience at a minimum along the corridor, lane closures on I-95 will only occur at night when traffic volumes are lighter. Three through-lanes will be maintained at all times from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Mobility 2000 initiative enabled projects slated for construction within 20 years to be pushed up as much as 10 years. The advance completion of these projects was made possible by a recapture of the state transportation revenue previously diverted to the general fund, a conservative amount of Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles and an increase in federal aid. CEG

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