It is the most intricate and complicated portion of the $1.2 billion Interstate 595 Express Lane construction project: raising an entire flyover bridge 18 inches into the air using hydraulic jacks.
"It is one of the key elements in providing the express lanes on the 595 corridor," said I-595 construction project manager Paul Lampley. "We have to raise the bridge to provide the vertical clearance in order to get trucks and other heavy vehicles under the bridge."
Crews will demolish the top of a middle tower and rebuild it, so they had to build a temporary tower to carry the weight of the bridge.
The massive move happens this weekend. A crew of 50 workers will place 24 hydraulic jacks on the top of the towers, and then they will simultaneously and slowly lift the curved bridge.
"They can lift about an inch. Once we lift it an inch each hour, then we will shim up the jacks, shim up the bridge, make sure it's stabilized and then move the jacks up and lift the bridge up another inch the next hour," Lampley said.
A hydraulic manifold is going to control all of the jacks simultaneously so they do not damage the bridge, which weighs 5,202,000 pounds.
If it goes according to plan, the entire lift will take 18 hours, so of course, there will be plenty of lane closures.
The following closures will be in effect from 11:30 p.m. Saturday to 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
- The ramp from southbound University Drive to eastbound I-595.
- Northbound and southbound University Drive at I-595.
- Westbound State Road 84 from U.S. 441 to Pine Island Road. (There will be no access to Florida's Turnpike.)
- Westbound I-595 from University Drive to Pine Island Road.
- Eastbound I-595 onramps from Weston Road to University Drive.
- Florida's Turnpike to westbound I-595 and westbound State Road 84.
- U.S. 441 to westbound I-595 and westbound State Road 84.
During the weekend closure, eastbound I-595 will be detoured to eastbound State Road 84 west of University Drive.
The flyover ramp from southbound University Drive to eastbound I-595 will be closed for 120 days, officials said.
The project will be done in 2014.
Many people do not realize the express lanes are already in place.
"The eastbound lanes that you see here today, those are going to be the reversible express lanes. The new 595 eastbound lanes will be built on this new pier," Lampley said.
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