The Florida Department of Transportation says the $1.8 billion Interstate 595 Express Corridor Improvements Project is ahead of schedule.
"The contractor is actually financing the project up front," said Barbara Kelleher with FDOT. "Until they get the road open and operating as it should be, the state has not paid for it yet."
Kelleher said the reversible express toll lanes could open in the spring of 2014 instead of the summer. Greg Nadeau, a deputy administrator with the Federal Highway Administration, called Florida's first and largest public-private partnership a model of efficiency.
"What it does is it makes possible a project being accomplished at this scale in about five years," he said, "where doing it conventionally would have taken much, much longer and probably cost a lot more money."
A portion of the project near Interstate 75 must still be finished. Once that part is complete, crews will only need to install the tolling system.
Innovative engineering, including jacking up the University Drive flyover instead of scrapping it and buying the Arrowhead Golf Course, increasing its water hazards to meet drainage needs, and then reselling it, have pushed the project along and saved money.
And making the developer maintain the highway for 35 years guarantees quality workmanship.
"There is a definitive incentive to insure quality in the construction project so that you don't increase your maintenance costs and certainly you don't want to have repair costs over that period of time," said Richard Dunn, a construction manager with Dragados USA.
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