New Erosion Control Standards Escalate Route 20 Project Costs

Wed March 16, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Jeff Cronin

Controlling erosion at the work site along state Route 20 (Hawthorne Road) in Alachua County, FL, has added a weekly task to an already busy project for Russell Engineering of Ft. Lauderdale.

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Spokesman Chip Skinner said new regulations have created a “zero tolerance” policy for off-site discharge in FDOT’s District 2.

Russell Engineering’s Roy Smith said crews had to test the turbidity of the Lochloosa Creek daily when they were working on the bridge over it. They also tested it following a rainfall.

Smith said they have spent approximately $600,000 on erosion control measures, which helped boost the cost of the project over the original contract amount to $22.75 million.

The efforts have proved challenging because, “It’s just so low out there,” Smith said.

He expects the cost will increase during the upcoming rainy season, but “it shouldn’t be as bad.”

To help keep materials out of the water, the workers have installed silt fences and hay bales throughout the site.

Regulations regarding discharge have been becoming stricter over the past few years. Skinner said other districts throughout the state are also keeping a closer eye on runoff because of pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local water management districts.

Crews have run across pockets of clay material, which needed to be excavated before laying down the new roadway.

Approximately 75 percent of the work to increase the 6.2-mi. stretch of Route 20 from east of Cross Creek Road to east of U.S. 301 in Hawthorne by two lanes has been completed. The $22.75-million project, which began in August 2002, should be completed by October.

The project also includes an overpass over U.S. 301, which was redesigned after the project kicked off.

Initially, the old bridge was to be completely demolished before the new one was constructed. But in order to maintain traffic flow, portions of the old bridge remained open to traffic while the ramps for the new overpass were built just a few feet away. Once the ramps were completed, traffic was switched there and the old overpass was closed.

Skinner said Russell Engineering had completed a similar transition from an old overpass to a new one at the interchange of Interstate 75 and Route 222 in Gainesville, so it knew how FDOT officials wanted it to work.

The redesign, as well as last year’s barrage of hurricanes, extended the project by approximately four months, Skinner said.

Russell crews are using a variety of heavy equipment at the work site, including a Caterpillar 330 backhoe, a Komatsu 400 backhoe, Cat grading equipment, a CMI reclaimer and a Dynapac vibrating roller. Smith said the company brought in American cranes — at 185, 120 and 100 tons — for the bridgework.

The project is just part of Florida’s overhaul of its intrastate highway system to improve traffic flow on major highways.

Passenger vehicle traffic has already been switched over to the new overpass, but trucks are still being routed through the interchange ramps because of lane restrictions.

Demolition continues on the old overpass, with workers removing its decking and beams. During this process, traffic on U.S. 301 has been restricted to one lane in each direction.

In addition to Russell, Skinner said 18 subcontractors have been hired for the job to perform tasks such as paving, bridgework and drainage work.

Smith said crews have brought in approximately 400,000 cu. yds. (306,000 cu m) of fill, 100,000 tons (91,000 t) of lime rock and 72,000 tons (65,000 t) of asphalt.

The company reclaimed the existing road’s asphalt to use for stabilization of the new road.