2017 Major Project Update

June 6, 2017

Catching up with some of the biggest projects in the U.S.

Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Project, Staten Island, N.Y., to New Jersey: This historic bridge has been undergoing its first major restoration since it was completed amidst the fury of the Great Depression in late 1931. The $1.6 billion project aims to raise the bridge’s present 151-ft clearance to a more shipping vessel-friendly 215 ft. At present, following a ship simulation study completed in February 2017, navigation clearance of the aforementioned 215 ft is expected to be reached this June—six months ahead of schedule, as announced by N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, who said, “The Raise the Roadway project is ... one of this region’s most significant job creators, employing 336,000 people and generating billions of dollars in economic activity. With the lifting of the bridge’s navigational restrictions, we expect these numbers to continue to grow and shipping lines to begin to send their larger ships to this port.”

Jane Byrne Interchange, Chicago, Ill.: Our previous coverage of this project has focused largely on the massive flyover ramp that connects the eastbound Dan Ryan Expressway with the westbound I-290 Eisenhower Expressway. As of December 2016, that was old news, as IDOT officially opened the ramp to traffic. In 2017, crews are turning their attention to the westbound I-290. The project limits extend from east of Canal Street to west of I-90/94 along I-290 approximately 1,850 ft. This project also includes reconstruction of the retaining wall along the Canal Street Ramp. The westbound I-290 bridge over I-90/94 will be completely reconstructed and will consist of one 12-ft lane and two 11-ft lanes, as well as inside and outside shoulders. The rehabilitation of the Congress Viaduct structure that facilitates traffic to northbound and southbound I-90/94 will be completed in a later contract.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct, Seattle, Wash.: After legion issues with the project “star” tunnel-boring machine, Big Bertha, the Alaskan Way Viaduct project is finally on the short road to completion. As you may recall, the project was halted for months while crews worked to fix the machine; this was followed by further delays due to concerns over soil stability. Half of the viaduct is already gone, demolished and replaced by crews at the south end of downtown, near Seattle’s stadiums. Completed on budget and one year ahead of schedule, this new section of S.R. 99 connects to the remaining viaduct along the waterfront to keep S.R. 99 traffic moving until the tunnel opens to traffic. On April 4 of this year, Big Bertha finally reached its disassembly berth, and shortly thereafter, on April 17, it was announced that tunneling was officially complete. In total, 1,426 concrete rings were built and installed, and the machine ground its way through 9,270 ft of earth.

The New N.Y. Bridge, New York, N.Y.: Our No. 1 bridge of 2016 continues to press forward. Since our last report in November of last year, Tappan Zee Constructors LLC, the constortium in charge of erecting the bridge, have continued installing the stay cable system, which will eventually utilize 192 stays in total; placed 750,000-lb steel sections connecting the westbound main span to the Westchester and Rockland approaches, respectively, followed by cable-stay connections and tensioning, as well as precast concrete deck panel installation; and begun setting four girder assemblies on the eastbound span near the Rockland landing. The assemblies are installed with infrastructure to carry communications, electrical power, water and compressed air to support bridge operations. Following a successful 2016 operationally, TZC leaders announced that the westbound span would be fully completed by the end of 2017, and the project in-line for 2018 wrap-up.

Project Neon, Las Vegas, Nev.: Nearly two decades in the making, Project Neon is the largest public works project in Nevada history. It will widen 3.7 miles of I-15 between Sahara Avenue and the “Spaghetti Bowl” interchange in downtown Las Vegas. It is presently the busiest stretch of highway in the state with 300,000 ADT, or one-tenth of the state population. With corridor traffic expected to double by 2035, project improvements have focused on an HOV direct connect between U.S. 95 and I-15, express-lane conversion on I-15, a new interchange dubbed the “Neon Parkway,” interchange reconstruction,  and ancillary corridor expansion and realignment. At present, crews are hard at work on the U.S. 95 and Martin Luther King Blvd. realignment, which is expected to be wrapped up by the end of summer 2017, at which time traffic will be moved onto the new alignment so that attention can then turn to the I-15 work, which will hit in 2018.

Honolulu Rail Transit Project, Honolulu, Hawaii: This was one of our Top 10 Bridges of 2016, and the sole transit-based project on the list. This massive $855 million undertaking was split into three phased lettings. This 20-mile elevated train line will be comprised of 438 spans, ranging in length from 68 to 151 ft. Phases 1 and 2, which comprise 10 miles at the western end of the project, are slated for completion on Dec. 1. Seven miles of this stretch were erected either in the median or on the shoudler of an active two- and three-lane roadway. This summer, design-builder Kiewit is buttoning up the final touches on those first two phases, with both mainline and electric rail work nearly complete. Phase 3 work will now begin with Shimmick/Traylor/Granite J.V. taking the reins. Its work includes the next 5 miles of elevated guideway and the four rail stations planned for that phase.

DFW Connector, Dallas/Forth Worth, Texas: This $1.6 billion project is as big as Texas, as the saying goes. Unfortunately, funding restrictions hampered Texas DOT and NorthGate Constructors conglomerate from pressing forward full-steam. However, when congestion funding opened up in February 2016, the team began work on the S.H. 121/360 Interchange. From northbound S.H. 360, there will be two new ramps: one to S.H. 121 and one to S.H. 114. From northbound S.H. 121, there will be a new ramp to westbound S.H. 114 and a reconfigured exit to William D. Tate Avenue. From the existing eastbound S.H. 114 to southbound S.H. 121/360 bridge, a new ramp will lead to southbound S.H. 121 and reconfigure the ramp to southbound S.H. 360. From southbound S.H. 121, there will be a new ramp to S.H. 360. On May 28, the new bridge from NB S.H. 360 to NB S.H. 121 was opened to traffic; crews now turn their attention to the EB 114 bridge.

I-11, near Boulder City, Nev.: The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is building the $83 million first phase of I-11, which calls for a four-lane concrete interstate freeway between Silverline Road and Foothill Drive in Henderson. Crews have already moved over 1 million cu yd of earth (or enough dirt to fill 400 average-sized swimming pools). The 2.5-mile-long project includes building a full diamond interchange at Railroad Pass with a loop ramp, plus a 600-ft-long two-lane cast-in-place flyover bridge from SB I-11 to EB U.S. 93 toward Boulder City. Phase one will also reconnect the railroad tracks previously severed by U.S. 93 by building a 360-ft bridge that allows the mainline freeway to pass underneath. A steel prefabricated pedestrian bridge will connect the River Mountains Loop and Henderson trail systems. Phase one will see 200 workers on-site with anticipated completion by January 2018. Phase two, meanwhile, will finish in October 2018.

I-4 Ultimate, Central Florida: This $2.3 billion public-private partnership project is rebuilding a six-lane, 21-mile interstate that includes 140 bridges and 15 interchanges. In addition, four express lanes are being added for variable-price tolling. So much is taking place in all four designated areas of this project, it is difficult to do justice to. However, the most recent progress developments involve traffic-signal mast-arm installs at Kirkman and Major, near Universal Studios; concrete bridge deck installation on the Grand National Drive overpass on EB I-4; bridge work proceeding on the John Young parkway interchange; and a complete traffic pattern shift on EB I-4 throughout downtown Orlando, as crews dig into mainline work. Project planners, including the Florida DOT, have compiled a weekly video series, alerting the public to closures, detours, pedestrian implications and timelines for interchange work.

About The Author: Budzynski is managing editor of Roads & Bridges.

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