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Renovations to ’Gateway to Disney’ Commence

Thu November 24, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Brian Kern



Known to many as the true gateway to Disney, the interchange at Interstate 95 and Interstate 10 in Jacksonville, FL, is undergoing a total makeover.

The project, expected to take approximately six years at a cost of $206 million, is a very complex job, according to Mike Goldman, a public information officer of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in Jacksonville.

“This is the most congested interchange in the state,” Goldman said. “It’s as long as any project we’ve ever undertaken in Northeast Florida.”

Archer Western Contractors LTD is spearheading the interchange renovation that started in February. Jon Walker, Archer Western’s project manager moved to Jacksonville from Arizona to direct the job from start to finish.

“Drainage work is one of our top priorities at the moment,” Walker said. “We’re working on the outside portions of the project — laying a lot of pipe.”

The project includes 27,000 linear ft. (8,300 m) of storm drainage pipe culverts. Three hundred drainage structures will be placed, and 73,000 sq. ft. (6,780 sq m) of temporary sheetpile retaining walls will be erected.

Seventeen bridges and 21 ramps, totaling 25 lane miles will be constructed at the interchange, located within the Jacksonville city limits.

Walker said one bridge has already been removed and placed off to the side. There will be four steel plate girder bridges and 13 pre-stressed concrete beam bridges. A total of 12 million lbs. (5.4 million kg) of structural steel will be used in the construction of the four steel plate girder bridges.

The contractor will use 40,000 cu. yds. (30,600 cu m) of bridge structure concrete and 60,000 cu. yds. (45,900 cu m) of 12.5-in. thick concrete pavement before the job is complete. Throughout the job, 850,000 cu. yds. (650,000 cu m) of embankment will be placed.

Goldman said in addition to constructing new on- and off-ramps, there will be some environmental issues to deal with.

“There was a solid waste incinerator in the area many years ago that left some ash deposits to be cleaned up,” Goldman said. “FDOT started cleaning some of the areas in 2002.”

Cleanup work on the incinerator ash could continue throughout the duration of the project as it is encountered.

A project of this magnitude naturally impacts city and interstate traffic patterns. While attempts will be made to keep the impact at a minimum, periodic closures and detours will occur.

According to a fact sheet provided by Walker, reconstruction of the interchange will take place in 10 phases. Temporary ramps and roadways will be constructed throughout the project to accomplish the multiple phase construction. The Interstates will be closed at night, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and traffic will be detoured to local roads during certain activities, such as setting beams across the road.

The I-95 southbound exit to Stockton Street will be closed after the end of the year and will remain closed for up to three years. A temporary exit ramp will be constructed at Forest Street and will remain in service until permanent access is constructed.

College Street will be permanently closed from Roselle Street to Forest Street. Message boards and permanent electronic signs will be used during detours to encourage night traffic to use I-295.

The I-95 on- and off-ramps at McCoy’s Creek Boulevard were permanently closed from day one. I-95 northbound traffic to I-10 westbound can continue to exit at Stockton Street.

Among a large list of equipment being used on the interchange project, Archer Western has a fleet of cranes on-site. They are using three Manitowoc crawler cranes: a 3950W 150 ton; an 888 230 ton; and a 4100W 220 ton.

Walker said the Walsh Group, Archer Western’s parent company, uses its nationwide leveraging capabilities to acquire rental equipment, but local sources are often used for service.

It also is using two Grove hydraulic cranes and a rented Link-Belt 248 200 ton crawler crane to round out the fleet.

The company purchased a Caterpillar MP30 pulverizer for this job to be used for breaking up the massive amounts of concrete on the project.

When complete, the refurbished interchange will provide access to downtown Jacksonville from Forest Street to Park Street and Riverside Avenue.

Traffic capacity will be increased, as will various efficiency and safety aspects. Cross-lane weaving movements that drivers face when using the current interchange will be reduced or eliminated. Forest Street also will be widened to accommodate the new on- and off-ramps. CEG