A crawler crane used for pile driving on the $470.5 million Central Florida GreeneWay project.
One of Central Florida’s busiest freeways is undergoing capacity upgrades to improve traffic flow in the area. The SR 417 South Corridor (Central Florida GreeneWay) will expand from four lanes to six lanes as part of the Central Florida Expressway Authority’s (CFX) Route 417 Corridor Capacity Improvement Project from International Drive to Route 528. Construction began in early 2021 and has an expected completion date of late 2023.
This will include installing noise barriers as needed and widening median shoulders to temporarily accommodate any additional traffic such as in the case of emergency response, hurricane evacuations or traffic accidents. SR 417 is also the first CFX highway to add open-air toll gates at all of its major toll plazas, allowing travelers equipped with electronic toll transponders to pay tolls while traveling at the speed indicated on the toll gate. highway.
“There were major challenges on the project involving long, unplanned delays and labor issues related to COVID, but the project teams worked to counter those challenges,” said Shemir Wiles, senior project manager. communications from Quest, CFX’s public engagement firm. “For example, with the longer lead time for materials, they try to order as many materials as possible up front to avoid any delays. The contractors have done a great job adjusting their schedules to avoid any delays. ‘there’s an area of the project they can work on where they have the materials and the team, they’ll change their schedule to focus on that area.’
To reduce traffic impacts or interruptions to the area, the project has been divided into five segments along the 21 mi. itinerary. These include construction of International Drive to John Young Parkway, Parkway to Landstar Boulevard, Boulevard to Boggy Creek Road, thence to Narcoossee Road, and the remainder of the road to SR 528 (Martin B. Andersen Beachline Expressway).
The cost of the project is $470.5 million with funds coming from toll generated funds as part of CFX’s 125 mi. system. Although each segment is in different phases of construction, the project is nearing completion by the estimated date. With five different segments in the works, there are a few different contractors working on this project. Segment one has Hubbard Construction Company; segment two has Prince Contracting; segments three and five are with SACYR Engineering and Infrastructures; and segment four with Ranger Construction.
Several subcontractors are also involved in the work on SR 417. All of them were brought in to provide specialized service on the project. Some of these contractors include: Chinchor Electric, United Signs & Signals and Conti, all major contractors who provide ITS, signaling and lighting work; Central Florida Underground Inc. for the installation of conduits by jacks and bores; Concrete Impressions of Florida Inc. for the supply and installation of pre-engineered noise barriers; Sitescope Inc. for the video of the existing drainage system; J. Mori Painting Inc. for painting steel bridge girders and overhead signage structures; Reliant Underground Inc. for the installation of underground conduits; Qualis Béton Inc. and Gosalia Béton Constructeurs Inc. for the installation of a median concrete wall; and Traffic Control Products of Florida Inc. for the installation of a temporary barrier wall.
Wiles shared that depending on the job at hand, multiple crew members are engaged in multiple tasks contributing to the completion of each segment. Most work was limited to night construction, some lane and ramp closures and some daytime pile driving operations. For the safety of motorists and work crews, speed limits are enforced during work and speeding fines are doubled in work zones when workers are present.
The safety of workers and surrounding traffic is of the utmost importance given that this is a high traffic area. Pacing vehicles are used behind some of the slower trucks to guide them into the work area safely and move travelers on the 417 to other lanes. Specific safety measures include daily coordination between segments regarding lane closures, ramp closures and diversions to ensure compatibility of everyone’s operations and to minimize impacts on motorists.
Other measures include routine coordination between all adjacent projects on transitions between projects to ensure all safety features are present and properly installed; the presence of law enforcement during all lane and/or ramp closures; consistent requirements for entry and exit of construction traffic to and from active traffic lanes; and the construction of temporary asphalt on the outer shoulders to provide additional width for traffic during the interior widening phase.
Labor on the project includes pile driving and bridge crews; paving teams; drainage teams; and crews working on the noise barriers installed as part of the project. A sound analysis was carried out prior to the start of the project to determine which locations would receive noise barriers to reduce noise impacts on surrounding areas.
“On segments three and five, the contractor is using an all-new hydraulic breaker mounted on the back of a backhoe to perform the pile driving in deck areas that have low headroom,” Wiles said. “We have a few areas on the project where they are doing work on bridges that have power lines going over them. Instead of using the traditional pile hammer which is usually very high, due to overhead clearance issues , they brought this equipment specifically for this project.”
Other construction equipment involved includes concrete mixer trucks, cranes, bulldozers, motor rasps, asphalt milling machines, dump trucks, road rollers and more. Materials include steel H-piles for bridge foundations, asphalt, concrete beams, and several electronic components for ITS works.
“The way Central Florida is growing, this project will definitely help not only people who live near the 417, but also our customers who travel it regularly,” Wiles said. “It will help them enormously to improve traffic safely in this area.” CEG