Easing Tampa’s commute

Awaiting concrete trucks at this I-275 bridge deck

Florida has had record rains this year. But that isn’t slowing our 120-person-strong Interstate 275 team – of which 34 are salaried, the rest craft workers – as they carry out a complex interstate expansion project through a dense section of Tampa, Fla.

Despite the downpours, the project remains on schedule for an August 2016 completion because of our team’s “tremendous effort,” said Bill Reed, Skanska project executive. 

This $215.4 million design-build project will greatly improve transportation through Tampa by widening a congested four-mile stretch of Interstate 275. This involves dividing the highway: a new four-lane stretch will carry southbound traffic while the existing highway will be rebuilt and widened to carry four lanes of northbound traffic.

In all, 19 bridges will be demolished, 18 bridges will be constructed, and three existing bridges will be widened and upgraded, most notably the 980-foot crossing at the Hillsborough River. Additionally, ramps and interchanges are being modified to improve traffic flow. The project includes 1.8 million cubic yards of earthwork, 145,000 square yards of concrete paving and 80,000 tons of asphalt paving.

Setting a brisk pace

With the project about 30 percent complete, this team is setting a brisk pace. On a recent Friday afternoon, they were readying for work to be done that night: cranes were being moved into position to lift nine, 100-foot-long bridge girders, and, for another bridge, final preparations were being made to pour 500 cubic yards for a bridge deck. Another nine girders would be placed that Saturday night, with both lifting involving shutting down the local road below.

Elsewhere, drainage pipe up to 114 inches in diameter was being installed, either up to 20 feet below grade or jack and bored under the highway. In doing that trenching work, our team is using a slide rail shoring system, which Reed says is more sophisticated and easier to use than a trench box.

All along the highway, Skanska’s name is displayed along bright yellow equipment, including mostly Cat bulldozers, rubber tired loaders, scrapers and graders – all purchased new for this job. Only the cranes are from Skanska’s equipment yard in Virginia Beach. Hopefully Skanska will be able to use this equipment on the I-4 Ultimate PPP project we’re pursuing in central Florida, Reed said.

Challenges and innovations

Besides the rain, other challenges include traffic and proximity to neighborhoods. Interstate lanes may only be closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and our team has its own maintenance of traffic crew to handle lane closures and local road detours. Some houses are just feet away from the work area, making community relations key. Reed regularly attends community meetings organized by the Florida Department of Transportation to give updates on and hear concerns about this project.

Sustainability is also a key aspect of this project. Our team uses a moveable 10,000-gallon water tank that they move to various storm water detention ponds to collect water for reuse for dust control and to ensure proper moisture levels in soil being compacted.

Sitting high in the air and emblazoned with a giant blue Skanska logo, the tank is another reminder to drivers of which company is behind this project.

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3 Responses

  1. Big time kudos to the project team. I commute past and through the construction zone daily and have yet to be delayed. The organization of the site is truly great and the progress daily highly visible. Can’t say I have seen a highway job this organized ever.

  2. There is mention of a great deal of equipment in this article. Which Skanska company owns this equipment?

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