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Sound Barriers Added to Sawgrass Expressway

Mon June 05, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Brian Kern

Concrete noise wall panels are being lowered and locked into place between H-post after H-post along an approximately 7-mi. stretch of Southwest Florida’s Sawgrass Expressway.

The Sawgrass, a section of the 312-mi. (502 km) Florida Turnpike system, between the turnpike’s southern interchanges and Interstate 75, is being widened in two phases from four to six lanes to accommodate the ever-increasing traffic flow along the road otherwise known as state Route 869. Traversing a generally residential suburban landscape, the project qualifies for noise abatement measures.

The project’s two phases are being administered by the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, a self-supporting state agency under the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The relatively unique hybrid organization manages ongoing Turnpike design-build contracts for FDOT.

Sonyha Rodriguez-Miller, public information officer of the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, said the $81.6-million contract for Segment I was awarded in 2005 to APAC Major Projects Group and Parsons Transportation Group.

“The design-build contract cuts a couple years off a project of this size by reducing administrative constraints,” Rodriguez-Miller said. “The concept allows the enterprise to act more as an entrepreneurial entity.

“In contrast to a design-bid-build project in which the lowest bidder wins the contract, APAC was selected based on an adjusted score: bid price proposal amount divided by a technical proposal score,” she said. “The contractor with the lowest adjusted score is selected.”

Work on Segment I started in April 2005, with a scheduled completion time of May 2007. Segment II is not set to commence until late May. Segment I is located between the Coral Ridge Drive and Florida Turnpike interchanges, while Segment II, a $57.2-million project, covers a 5.6-mi. (9 km) stretch from Atlantic Boulevard to Coral Ridge Drive. Segment II is currently in the design and permitting stages with a scheduled completion date of early 2008.

Twelve bridges — six on each side of the expressway — are included in the Segment I widening project. During the week of April 24, asphalt crews began pouring two slabs per week, adding a lane to each bridge. Overall, in this segment of the job 51,400 tons (46,600 t) of Superpave and 16,500 tons (15,000 t) of friction course will be used.

Panels for the noise barriers are pre-formed and brought to the site ready to be positioned. The depth of the piles for the H-posts being dropped into the ground range between 12 and 25 ft. (3.7 and 7.6 m) depending on the type of soil and the height of the panels.

Rodriguez-Miller said approximately 59,000 linear ft. (18,000 m) of noise walls are being erected in Segment I. A total of 2,950 20-ft. (6 m) panels will be used in 20 separate walls.

Approximately 16,000 cu. yds. (12,200 cu m) of earth was removed for the Segment I site through regular excavation, along with 115,000 cu. yds. (87,900 cu m) of embankment, according to Rodriguez-Miller.

APAC Field Engineer Matt Griffin said his company owns most of its own equipment. In addition to the Komatsu PC400LC auger drill rig, a specialized Italian machine made for the sole purpose of drilling, also was used on site.

“We’re using four cranes — a 100-ton, two 80-tons and we had a Terex Triple 7 to drive piles while putting the bridges in,” Griffin said.

APAC uses two Putzmeister TK40 grout pumps to deliver specialized Auger Cast grout to the drill that in turn feeds it into the holes that will support the H-posts for the noise panels.

Griffin said the grout is released as the drill returns to the surface. An on-site inspector of Williams Earth Sciences Inc., a geotechnical company, monitors APAC’s operations and tests grout loads for strength and fluidity.

Rodriguez-Miller said so far, 19 subcontractors are being used for Segment I. “There are approximately 75 people working on the project.”

There have been negligible negative effects on the surrounding communities, according to Rodriguez-Miller.

“Overall, there have been minimal impacts on motorists and residents,” she said. “Lane closures are only permitted at night. Occasionally, residents may have experienced noise, dust and vibration.”

She complimented the contractor, saying, “APAC has been conscientious about minimizing inconveniences for the public; I handle any complaints related to the project, and there have been few.”

To help alleviate community issues, the Turnpike Enterprise has conducted numerous mailings to inform the public about upcoming construction activities. CEG

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