Lockdown let state accelerate massive I-395 project
The dramatic drop in traffic on Miami’s streets and freeways resulting from the health crisis has allowed the state transportation department to accelerate the progress on the I-395/SR 836/I-95 Design-Build Project.
Two months ago, on a directive of the governor, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced the speeding up of several critical infrastructure projects, including the I-395 project and its Signature Bridge in the heart of downtown.
Local stay-at-home orders and economic shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic led to lower traffic volumes, giving road workers a golden opportunity to close lanes and kick construction into high gear.
The goal was to advance the project by one month and this week the FDOT reports that goal has been achieved.
“The expanded lane closure hours have allowed the contractor to increase production and expedite the concrete replacement phase of the project by approximately four weeks,” said Oscar Gonzalez III, senior community outreach specialist, in an email to Miami Today on Tuesday.
In late April, FDOT and the I-395/SR 836/I-95 Design-Build contractor, Archer Western – de Moya Joint Venture, completed the concrete pavement replacement on three inside southbound lanes on I-95 between Northwest 20th and 29th streets, utilizing three lane continuous (24/7) closures during this period of lower traffic volumes, Mr. Gonzalez said.
In early May, he said, the contractor implemented a continuous single lane closure between Northwest 11th and 20th streets and double lane closures from Northwest 20th to 29th streets on northbound I-95 to replace the concrete pavement on three inside lanes. The northbound continuous lane closures were in place for about 10 days.
Mr. Gonzalez said continuous lane closures were also recently used along eastbound SR 836 from Northwest 12th Avenue to I-95 and on the Northwest 12th Avenue ramp to eastbound SR 836 to expedite replacement of existing concrete pavement with asphalt.
The $802 million project is funded by a partnership of the state transportation department ($616 million) and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority ($186 million).
The work includes the “Signature Bridge” over Northeast Second Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard, an upper deck of traffic built over SR 836 and the Miami River, and the addition of one lane to the northbound entrance to I-95.
“The contractor does not anticipate additional multi-lane continuous closures at this time but will continue to implement extended lane closure hours. Lane closures will be adjusted as needed based on actual traffic volumes,” wrote Mr. Gonzalez.
Under normal traffic conditions, the contractor removes the existing concrete slabs, prepares the roadway base for the new concrete, places the new concrete, performs joint cuts and allows the concrete to cure between 9 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., he explained.
On SR 836, the contractor shifted eastbound and westbound traffic to create a new work zone. The contractor is performing foundation work for bridge widening along Northwest 17th avenue and Northwest 10th Avenue and removing the center bridge deck from Northwest 13th to 17th avenues in order to begin foundation work for the new double decked section of SR 836 in July.
“There are ongoing day and night operations on I-395 including the installation of Auger Cast Piles (ACP) for the center pier foundation of the signature bridge. The center pier foundation alone will have a total of 128 ACPs. The contractor is also working on the ACP foundations for the eastbound and westbound local connector road bridges,” he wrote.
“Approximately 340 ACPs have been installed to date. Bridge support columns are also being constructed, with a total of nine completed and many others in different phases of completion. The contractor is also working on removing existing sections of I-395 to open up additional areas for foundation work,” Mr. Gonzalez said.
Preliminary work began on the I-395/SR 836/I-95 Design-Build Project in December 2018, with full-on construction starting in early 2019. Anticipated completion is fall 2024.