Another major milestone in the implementation of the South Florida Regional Managed Lanes network was achieved on March 24, with the opening of the first phase of the I-75 Express Lanes from Northwest 170th Street in Miami-Dade County to I-595 in Broward County.
This 15-mile segment features a new, four-lane barrier separated, tolled managed lanes facility within the I-75 median, as well as direct connections to the I-595 Express Lanes and Florida’s Turnpike (HEFT), five intermediate express lanes ingress and egress points, and major improvements to the HEFT, Miramar Parkway, and Sheridan Street interchanges.
As part of our statewide public-private partnership (P3) and engineering support services contracts with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), RS&H has been providing owner’s representative services to District Four for this $480 million expansion of the regional network since June 2011.
The project (District Four segment) is the first of two adjoining segments. The second segment, managed by FDOT District Six, extends 13 miles from Northwest 170th Street to State Road 836 in Miami-Dade County and is scheduled to open toward the end of 2018. The total 28-mile, $725-million corridor improvements are essential in addressing existing congestion, enhancing bus rapid transit services, accommodating regional growth and development, enhancing hurricane and other emergency evacuation, and improving connectivity between key southeast Florida limited access facilities: I-75, State Road 826, Gratigny Parkway, HEFT, I-595 and the Sawgrass Expressway.
In the early project stages, RS&H assisted Districts Four and Six, as well as Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise with assessing cost-effective concept alternatives involving traffic and revenue analyses, tolling strategies, extensive design, construction and operations and maintenance cost estimate analyses, value engineering, financial feasibility analyses, and alternative delivery options. The evaluation resulted in dividing the District Four Segment into five design-build contracts, including a separate ITS/tolling integrator contract for the corridor.
The multiple design-build contracts, coupled with the need for a concurrent opening of the express lanes, posed significant implementation challenges in maintaining corridor continuity and avoiding contractor overlap. The RS&H Team was instrumental in developing a comprehensive master schedule from procurement through construction completion. The team also developed detailed contract language for coordination and logical sequencing of construction operations at the contract interface points. Innovative incentive/disincentive specifications and partial/final acceptance requirements to enable simultaneous final pavement and striping operations were essential in ensuring concurrent completion of the individual contracts for the express lanes opening.
Of upmost importance to the surrounding communities — and a key project commitment during the PD&E phase — was the early construction of the 12 miles of noise walls within the project limits. Extensive public outreach to area homeowners’ associations and monthly Corridor Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings with the community, emergency responders and other stakeholders provided effective communication tools in addressing concerns and keeping everyone informed on the status of the project throughout design and construction.
Other services provided by the RS&H Team included preparation of comprehensive Request For Proposal packages, including extensive preliminary field investigation reports and corridor-wide conceptual environmental permits, and technical advisory to the Review Committee in the procurement of each of the five design-build contracts. RS&H also provided support to District Four in the preparation and review of documentation for FHWA oversight, including design-build deliverables, reevaluations, contract changes, project management plan updates, and annual updates of the financial plan.
RS&H continues to provide post-award design management services, including plans, RFI and shop drawing reviews, utility coordination support, cost saving initiatives reviews, change order and supplemental agreement reviews, tolling equipment contractor and ITS/tolls integrator coordination, estimates and schedule reviews, field/technical issues resolution, and environmental compliance reviews.
Following the success of our I-595 and I-95 Corridor Design Consultant (CDC) contracts, the timely and successful opening of the I-75 Express Lanes further solidifies RS&H’s position as FDOT’s trusted advisor for owner’s representative services for large scale, high profile managed lanes and alternative delivery projects.