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Middlesex Corp. Tames Tricky Fla. Interchange

Wed May 16, 2012 - Southeast Edition
Lori Lovely

Seminole County, in partnership with the city of Cassselberry and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), began an improvement project on state Road 436 and Red Bug Lake Road in October 2011 to improve mobility and safety in the heavily traveled area.

Originally scheduled to begin in 2010, work is anticipated to be completed approximately two years from the construction start date. Funded by state sales tax money, the project is budgeted at $24.5 million.

Improvements to the state Road 436-Red Bug Lake Road interchange have been discussed since the 1980s. With a current traffic count of 68,000 — which is expected to increase to 78,000 by 2020, according to County Engineer Co-Co Wu — the heavily traveled intersection is one of the busiest in Seminole County. As such, it sees a lot of congestion, further complicated by an intricate layout that is confusing to navigate.

While many central Florida drivers say they avoid the area as much as possible, back-ups frequently occur even between rush hours. Congestion and confusion have led to 96 accidents reported at the intersection last year, ranking it seventh in the county for the number of accidents. Even fire trucks have difficulty getting onto Red Bug Lake Road from a nearby station.


Project boundaries extend on SR 436 from Lake Howell Road to Wilshire Boulevard; Red Bug Lake Road from SR 436 to Eagle Circle; and Winter Park Drive from Red Bug Lake Road to just south of Cannon Way.

Planned improvements include widening SR 436 from six to eight lanes in both directions, widening Red Bug Lake Road from four to six lanes in both directions (although only five lanes from Mark David Boulevard. to Eagle Circle); widening Winter Park Drive to four lanes; addition or extension of turn lanes at multiple intersections throughout the project limits; construction of a major four-span steel flyover bridge for southbound vehicles on SR 436 turning onto eastbound Red Bug Lake Road; upgrading the existing storm water drainage system throughout the area; construction of three retention ponds on SR 436 and two retention ponds on Red Bug Lake Road; replacement of the existing brick wall adjacent to the Sommerset neighborhood, installation of mast arm traffic signals at the intersections of SR 436 and Lake Howell Road, SR 436 and Sausalito Boulevard, SR 436 and Red Bug Lake Road/Winter Park Drive; addition of landscaping and irrigation; reconstruction and repaving of the roadway; replacement and addition of roadway lighting throughout the project and adjacent to the ponds; and reconstruction of curb ramps to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Middlesex Corporation of Massachusetts is the general contractor for the 1.3-mi. long (2.09 km) project. Middlesex’s regional office in Orlando is responsible for managing all work on the project and will perform the excavation, embankment, base work, bridge work, MSE walls, CIP retaining walls, box culvert extension, milling and paving.

Other work to be completed includes relocation and installation of water and wastewater infrastructure utilities by Interlocal agreement with the city of Casselberry and South Seminole North Orange County Water Transmission Authority and relocation and installation of water and wastewater infrastructure utilities for Seminole County Environmental Services Department. Dewitt Excavating is performing the storm and utility pipe work, along with constructing curbs and sidewalks.

To divert potential problems and engender cooperation, Megan Olivera, area manager and public information officer for Quest Corporation of America, said the project team meets weekly with utility companies. Meetings for community outreach also are held. Due to the complicated nature of the project, she believes it’s important to keep locals informed through flyers, a Web site and an office on site to answer questions that arise.

Bridge Work

“SR 436 will be widened to the outside of the existing SR 436 to accommodate the bridge being positioned in the median,” explained Jim Carr, Middlesex Corporation project manager. “Red Bug Lake Road is widened on the north side again to accommodate the bridge positioning in the median of Red Bug Lake Road. Winter Park Drive is widened to facilitate the connection at the intersection.”

The 650-ft.-long (198 m), four-span bridge will carry two southbound SR 436 lanes of traffic over the intersection to Red Bug Lake Road eastbound.

“The substructure consists of three intermediate hammerhead-type piers and two end bents built integrally with 15,000 square feet of MSE wall,” Carr explained.

Approximately 9,000 cu. yds. (6,880 cu m) of select fill will be excavated from the proposed stormwater ponds and used as the MSE wall backfill. Roughly 11,000 ft. (3,352 m) of hpile 12 x 84 driven into the ground will serve as bridge foundation.

“This amounts to 924,000 pounds of steel piling,” Carr noted.

The substructure will consist of 550 cu. yds. (420 cu m) of concrete and 130,000 lbs (58,967 kg) of reinforcing steel. Reinforcing steel installation and bridge girder erection is being performed by V & M Erectors.

“The superstructure consists of four curved steel plate girders on a 9-inch-thick concrete deck,” Carr said.

Superstructure girders consist of 1.6 lbs. (738,448 kg) of structural steel supplied by PDM Bridge of Palatka, Fla. Another 850 cu. yds. (649 cu m) of concrete and 285,000 lbs. (129,273 kg) of reinforcing steel will be used in the superstructure.

For safety purposes, the structural steel girders will be erected in accordance with a signed and sealed erection procedure that indicates the proper size rigging, crane selection and positioning. As the girders are erected, a beam safe system will be installed to allow the workers to be tied off while they begin construction of the bridge superstructure.

The Road to a Better Intersection

Road work begins with approximately 77,000 cu. yds. (58,870 cu m) of regular excavation and 23,000 cu. yds. (17,584 cu m) of embankment.

“There is a net volume of soil leaving the project after the on-site needs are satisfied,” Carr said.

Once the earthwork is completed, 37,000 tons (33,565 t) of limerock will be spread over 63,000 sq. yds. (52,676 sq m) of new roadway base. Next, 74,000 sq. yds. (61,873 sq m) of milling of existing asphalt roadway will be done and 33,000 tons (29,937 t) of new asphalt paving will be laid.

“Much of the existing roadway is overbuilt with asphalt to obtain the correct proposed roadway elevations and cross slopes,” Carr explained.

Under the contract, the existing brick privacy walls will be replaced with 12,000 sq. ft. (10,033 sq m) of new walls on Red Bug Lake Road by Old World Masonry.

Five existing signalized intersections will be reconstructed with new mast arms and all the intersections will be interconnected with adjacent Seminole County Traffic systems. After the existing street lighting system is removed, 46 new streetlights will be installed. Bowyer Singleton is providing the alternate traffic control design services.

Lake Conway Landscaping will plant 380 trees and install irrigation systems throughout the project, including around the six stormwater ponds and throughout the median areas of the roadway, with A 1 Florida Sod laying sod. D & D Truck and Tractor is completing the pond earthwork. Special fencing will be added around the ponds.

Work in Progress

Work is progressing according to schedule, Olivera reported. “There have been no weather issues and not many challenges with utilities … but it’s always a concern. Sometimes we find unmarked utilities.”

Utility coordination and installation has been a challenge, Carr admitted. “The utility company relocations, such as Progress Energy, Brighthouse, Century Link, Level 3, FPL and Teco Gas need to be completed in a coordinated fashion with the storm and utility pipe work.”

PAH Constructors is performing the electrical work, including signals, signs, ITS and lighting. The existing water and force main systems will be modified and 13,900 ft. (4,236 m) of new utility pipe will be installed. Trench boxes and slide rail systems are utilized while installing deep pipe to ensure safe trenches and protect the workers and inspectors.

Two hundred structures — inlets and manholes — and 17,000 ft. (5,181 m) of new reinforced concrete storm drain pipe will collect storm water and convey it to six new storm water ponds, three each on SR 436 and Red Bug Lake Road.

Due to utility installation, intersection geometry and high traffic volumes, the sequence of the bridge work on this project is performed in phases, rather than continuously. Middlesex received approval of alternate traffic control plans in an effort to build the bridge in a more continuous, shorter time frame. This allows more of the contract work to be constructed in multiple phases concurrently, helping to keep work on schedule. While the anticipated completion date for the project as a whole is October 2013, Olivera said the bridge is expected to open a little earlier, probably in the summer 2013.

However, safety isn’t sacrificed in the name of speed. As Carr indicated, “TMC’s goal of zero incidents and accidents is the most important goal we have on this project.”

To achieve that goal, Middlesex implements and enforces its comprehensive health and safety plan. Overnight lane closures are scheduled so milling and paving work in heavy traffic areas can be completed when traffic volume is low. Adherence to FDOT Index 600 MOT standards when performing this work ensures safe work zones. Middlesex is performing the QC/QA on the milling and asphalt paving work, all other QC inspection and testing is being performed by PSI. CEG

Lori Lovely

Lori Lovely is an award-winning journalist, editor and author of the children's book Isadora's Dance. She has worked for newspapers, magazines and niche publications, covering a wide-ranging list of topics that includes motor sports, construction, MSW, energy, environmental issues, water, animal rights and issues, history, Native American issues and people, real estate and home decor, farming and more. Her degrees in History taught this dedicated professional to research thoroughly and ask detailed questions in order to winnow interesting facts that convey the essence of the story. As a seasoned writer and compassionate storyteller, she accurately portrays the subject in a manner that entrances the reader.

When she's not working on assignment, Lori is tending to her historic Indiana farm, where she raises alpacas. An inveterate animal lover, this vegetarian enjoys spending time with her animals and working in her garden.

Read more from Lori Lovely here.

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