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Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge Gets Parallel Span to Marco Island

Mon May 31, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

Marco Island, located in Collier County, Fla., measures 24 sq. mi. (62.4 sq km) and is the largest Barrier Island within Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, which are located near the southern end of Florida on the Gulf Coast and extend from Marco Island to Cape Sable. The island’s only bridge connecting it to the mainland is the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge on SR 951, which can take drivers to Naples, U.S. 41 or I-75. A new span next to the present bridge is currently under construction. The present bridge will stay put while workers build a parallel span that will help improve the route’s capacity to and from the island. FIGG/Johnson Bros. is the design/build team on this project, and Eisman & Russo is the consultant doing engineering and inspection (CEI) for the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) District One.

The cost of the project is $25.5 million and the CEI cost is $2.4 million. The bridge construction is being funded through the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly referred to as the Stimulus package. The Act is largely funding infrastructure development and enhancement including construction and repair of roads and bridges. According to FDOT, more than 100 ARRA projects are planned for District One, and all of them are located in economically distressed counties.

Design work on the project began Sept. 21, 2009, and construction began in January 2010. The completion of the project is anticipated by the end of 2011.

The project consists of building a new two-lane bridge next to the existing Jolley Bridge, with the end result being a total of four lanes over Big Marco Pass connecting Marco Island to U.S. 41 and other routes.

The new span will carry southbound traffic while the existing span carries northbound traffic.

According to Debbie Tower, public information director of FDOT, “both spans will be 1,600 feet long each.” Furthermore, the marine channel vertical clearance for both spans will be 55 ft. (17 m) above Mean Water High.

The contractor will build the new bridge 20 ft. (6 m) west of the existing bridge. It will have two 12-ft. (3.7 m) travel lanes with a 10-ft. (3 m) outside shoulder, a 6-ft. (1.8 m) inside shoulder and an 8-ft. (2.4 m) sidewalk on the west side. The contract also includes lighting, a water retention feature and pedestrian access to both spans. In addition, “modification to the median will allow better vehicular access to recreational areas,” stated Tower.

On May 17, a change in the aesthetic design of the project was voted on by Marco Island’s City Council. This change to the design consisted of replacing the concrete walls with a grassy slope on the approach and replacing the concrete pedestrian walls/railings on the bridge to include shorter solid concrete walls and additional railings. These changes “reduced costs by about $120,000,” according to Tower.

“This cost difference funds the change to traffic and pedestrian walls/railings that open up the view from the new southbound bridge.”

Numerous cranes are on the job site for construction of the bridge; one came from New Orleans on a barge. Pile driving equipment is on-site as well. After being cast at a concrete plant, the piles will be delivered to the job site where workers will drive permanent piles into the land side of the project. Workers also will drill shafts into the bay bottom then concrete will be poured into the shafts, which will then be used as waterside piles.

Once piles are set, much of the remaining concrete work will be done on site; concrete will be poured into the forms for the footings, columns and caps. Beams for the bridges will be hauled via truck to the project site where they will be placed on top of the caps. Next, the bridge deck will be formed and poured in place on top of the beams.

Work began in January with relocation of utilities followed by demolition and removal of the fishing pier. Median work has started and barges and cranes are docked next to the bridge and are ready for construction. The rest of the construction schedule will first consist of building the two northbound lanes to the existing bridge, which will be followed by a temporary shift to these lanes with one lane in each direction. Then, once the new span is built, all traffic will shift to the new bridge structure while the old bridge is resurfaced. The City of Marco Island also plans road improvements that will probably occur once the bridge work is finished. FDOT maintains that during construction there will always be one northbound and one southbound lane open.

Presently, four lanes lead up to the existing Jolley Bridge and merge into two lanes causing back-ups during peak travel hours. As a result of the new span, traffic congestion will be minimized and drivers will experience a shorter trip time. Moreover, the new span will allow for more efficient emergency evacuations off of the Island.

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