“The Gateway area of Pinellas County is a highly developing area, with a lot of industry located there,” says Greg Deese, Resident Engineer with the FDOT. “That comes with a lot of traffic and an opportunity to create thoroughfares in the east-west and the north-south directions.”
The project adds toll lanes and will separate through traffic onto a limited-access highway away from local traffic. Most of the sections are elevated but in some places the new lanes are at grade. The express lanes are located primarily in the median.
The project includes 25 new bridges, widening of five bridges, replacing a bridge barrier, and adding noise walls, signage, an Intelligent Transportation System, and electronic toll gantries. Many of the bridges have curved steel girders. Six bridges have steel plate I-girders. There are two steel-plate box girder flyovers, 21 Florida I-beam bridges, a flat-slab bridge and one bridge culvert.
“The heavy bridge work on this job makes it challenging and complex,” Deese says.
The department decided to use design-build on this project to accelerate the job when funding became available, but design was not completed.
“Design-build allowed us to go out on the street quicker,” Deese reports.
Archer Western - de Moya Joint Venture received the design-build contract. The partners are Archer Western with an office in Tampa, Florida, and de Moya Group of Miami. BCC Engineering of Tampa serves as the prime designer partner.
The delivery method also offers opportunities for innovation. One of those was reconfiguring the I-275 and Roosevelt Boulevard interchange so another express lane could be added in the future. Additionally, the contractor, under a 16-hour detour, removed the entire 4th Street bridge over I-275.
The contractor participated in workforce development initiatives to bring on local job seekers and introduce them to the industry. After completing a class, participants were offered a job and a couple of dozen succeeded and “started their careers in this industry,” Deese reports. The department hopes to replicate this program on other projects.
Work began in August 2017 and is scheduled for completion in 2023.
A 4,035-foot-long viaduct bridge has 26 spans, with Florida-I 84 and 78 beams, supported on post-tensioned hammerhead pier caps, constructed in three cast-in-place post-tensioned segments to minimize impacts to existing traffic, reports BCC.
The steel-girder flyover bridges have several curved units with spans reaching 320 feet long. At one 118th Avenue bridge, in a portion lacking right-of-way, the contractor is tucking the surface lanes under the bridge.
Overnight, the crews removed the 4th Street bridge over I-275, which had cast-in-place box girders. They removed the entire structure using self-propelled modular transports.
The six transports were rolled under the bridge. Workers cut through the piers. The four jacks per transport roll on 80 tires and moved the entire bridge to a new location. Then crews brought down the foundations.
“They jack up the bridge and the mobile transports move it off of the roadway,” Deese says.
An additional challenge for these toll lanes was ensuring a liner at an existing landfill remained intact.
The project also required reconfiguring the roads adjacent to the new elevated sections, including Roosevelt Boulevard and 118th Avenue.
Roosevelt Boulevard from Bayside Bridge to Ulmerton Road is being rebuilt as two one-way surface roads, with new access roads for the St. Pete-Clearwater International (PIE) Airport terminal. Also at the airport, crews will create new ponds, a permanent connection to Fairchild Drive and new signals.
Crews will repave 118th Avenue North from U.S. 19 to 31st Court North and the eastbound off-ramp from SR 690 to southbound I-275. The construction team also will repair or rebuild sections of U.S. 19 and 118th Avenue North, including constructing new ramps and bridges.
Throughout construction, crews have maintained traffic on all of the roads involved in the Gateway project. In some sections, capacity has been reduced.
“We are allowing them detours and road closures to fly those beams,” Deese says. “There is a lot of logistic management to do that right.”
The contractor has used automated machine guidance and modeling on this project. Additionally, the joint venture is using the autonomous rebar-tying robot TyBot to machine tie as many as 1,000 bridge deck ties an hour, using robotics and artificial intelligence. The project will consume 10,800 tons of rebar, 8,130 tons of structural steel, 192,000 cubic yards of concrete and 115,000 tones of asphalt.
“It’s been a great job and a really good partnership,” Deese says. “I’m looking forward to getting it done.”
Photos courtesy of the Florida Department of Transportation