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Florida's Kings Highway Project Adds Capacity, Safety

Thu March 02, 2023 - Southeast Edition #5
Chuck MacDonald – CEG CORRESPONDENT


During construction, the contractor had to plan for keeping the canals open and operational during several hurricanes and tropical storms that roared close to the area.
(Florida Department of Transportation photo)
During construction, the contractor had to plan for keeping the canals open and operational during several hurricanes and tropical storms that roared close to the area. (Florida Department of Transportation photo)
During construction, the contractor had to plan for keeping the canals open and operational during several hurricanes and tropical storms that roared close to the area.
(Florida Department of Transportation photo) Florida’s Kings Highway (SR 713) connects with I-95, the Florida Turnpike and A1A to convey people and goods to Ft. Pierce as well as to Florida’s Treasure Coast.
(Halley Engineering photo) The project included the relocation of two major canals that drain a significant area well north and west of the project limits.
(Florida Department of Transportation photo) The two-lane highway is being transformed into a four-lane road with a 20-ft. wide median.
(Aerial Innovations photo) Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Halley Engineering began the project in 2018 with plans to finish in spring 2023. The new corridor will cost $45.2 million.
(Florida Department of Transportation photo) About 1,500 ft. of the open canal was realigned and enclosed into a box culvert.
(Florida Department of Transportation photo) In this project, planners have decided to relocate the direction of the flow in a section of two canals (canals number 40 and 32W) into a closed drainage system.
(Florida Department of Transportation photo) The canal work required some specialized equipment. A contractor brought in a drill rig with a perforated tremie pipe that helped to pour the foundational columns placed under the new box culvert.
(Florida Department of Transportation photo) The project will use more than 20,000 cu. yds. of concrete and 40,000 tons of Superpave asphalt on its 3.4 mi.
(Florida Department of Transportation photo) Concrete operations also have been required for paving and for the canal’s slope protection system.
(Florida Department of Transportation photo)

For many years, trucks carrying produce and manufactured goods have been jostling for space with commuters and tourists traveling to Florida's Atlantic Coast on Kings Highway (SR 713). This busy road connects with I-95, the Florida Turnpike and A1A to convey people and goods to Ft. Pierce as well as to Florida's Treasure Coast. That congestion is changing rapidly as the two-lane highway is being transformed to a four-lane road with a 20-ft. wide median. Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Halley Engineering began the project in 2018 with plans to finish in spring 2023. The new corridor will cost $45.2 million.

The new road is in the final phases, including the rerouting of active traffic to allow for new construction. The new four lanes will eliminate the cause of head on crashes prevalent on the old two-lane. Workers are upgrading the durability as well with new concrete sections at SR 70/Okeechobee Road intersection; SR 68/ Orange Avenue intersection; and at crossover points and truck stops.

For most projects in Florida handling water is as crucial as the proper handling of asphalt and concrete. This project is no exception. The project included the relocation of two major canals that drain a significant area well north and west of the project limits. During construction the contractor had to plan for keeping the canals open and operational during several hurricanes and tropical storms that roared close to the area.

For the long term, project planners designed the relocation of two canals, including enclosing one in an innovative box culvert. In addition, the project workers built four ponds to retain roadway drainage. This was just one of the "green elements" to the project.

"These ponds enable roadway pollutants to settle out prior to the water being discharged into the adjacent canals," said Saira Rothschild, project manager of FDOT. "This ensures cleaner water is filtered through the system before entering the canals which ultimately feed into the intercostal waterway and the Atlantic Ocean."

The project also installs both sidewalk and a shared-use path for pedestrians, encouraging those alternate modes of travel. The roadway and paths will be illuminated with LED lighting, a significantly more energy-efficient system than the previous lights.

The project will use more than 20,000 cu. yds. of concrete and 40,000 tons of Superpave asphalt on its 3.4 mi.

Drivers in Florida regularly see canals built to catch water from storms and normal rainfalls. In this project, planners have decided to relocate the direction of the flow in a section of two canals (canals number 40 and 32W) into a closed drainage system. About 1,500 ft. of the open canal was realigned and enclosed into a box culvert.

"The culvert will be supported by a foundation system for the reinforced concrete sections and some of the roadway elements above it," said Rothschild. "In addition, the canal that did run on the west side of Kings Highway was relocated from the SR 70 intersection to Research Park Road. This realignment will make it easier for workers to build the new roadway section."

The canal work required some specialized equipment. A contractor brought in a drill rig with a perforated tremie pipe that helped to pour the foundational columns placed under the new box culvert. Concrete operations also have been required for paving and for the canal's slope protection system.

Motorists and truckers should soon feel the full effect of the major road construction on Kings Highway.

"This project came together under a team mentality from all parties. Through this teamwork we will be doubling the capacity of the mainline roadway and the capacity at various intersections," said Rothschild. "Along with better drainage, we are improving lighting, signage and striping. The new pedestrian and bicycle lanes will allow safer access and minimize interaction with motorists. All of these features are substantial improvements to former roadway conditions, ensuring improved and safer mobility for all users."

John Morris of Halley Engineering also stressed the strength of the partnerships on the project.

"FDOT and their CEI Team [Cardno/Corradino] have been great partners to work with throughout this project. We have had to overcome many challenges, from the COVID pandemic to material shortages and unprecedented price increases in our industry over the last three years. Through the implementation of several innovative ideas and a lot of teamwork it looks like this project should wrap up as a successful venture for all parties involved. It will be a huge benefit to the many users of this important and highly traveled corridor." CEG




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