Cranes, orange construction barrels and construction workers with hardhats have become a constant at the Interstate 75/University Parkway interchange.
Since August, crews have been working on both University Parkway and I-75 to build Florida’s first diverging diamond interchange, which officials say will help alleviate traffic congestion. With southbound traffic already traveling along the temporary bridge on I-75, crews were working Monday on what will be the new southbound travel lanes.
“They are making great headway,” Marlena Gore, Florida Department of Transportation interstate construction project manager, said this week. “It is exciting for me to come out.”
Work on the diverging diamond interchange, which will be the largest in the United States when completed, is approximately 40 percent complete. The $74.5 million project, which is expected to be completed in time for the 2017 World Rowing Championship at nearby Nathan Benderson Park from Sept. 24-Oct. 1, 2017, is “right on schedule,” Gore said.
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“It is going really well,” she said. “We are really pleased with Prince Contracting. They are moving along really, really well.”
The construction has been taking place Monday through Saturday, both during the day and at night, said Michael Martin, project administrator with Metric Engineering.
“We’ve got crews out here 24/7,” he said.
$74.5 millionCost of diverging diamond interchange construction
By the end of this summer, traffic is expected to shift onto the newly constructed southbound lanes, Gore said.
Then the northbound traffic will be shifted “onto the bypass bridge, which will stay where it is,” Gore added.
“We will just be shifting the traffic using the roadway, not shifting the bridge,” she said. “They are also going to start seeing lane shifts on University Parkway so we can start the new configuration for the diverging diamond.”
One day it will be like normal and then we will re-stripe and shift to diverging diamond.
Michael Martin, Metric Engineering project administrator
On Monday, crews were working on along the west side of I-75 at the University Parkway interchange to push a new water main under the interstate, Martin said. The activities that are currently underway on the west side of the interstate will be nearly mirrored on the east side.
“Right now they are pushing the water main through the casing,” Martin said.
Before the interchange will officially take its diverging diamond shape, which is expected to occur toward the end of the project, other activities such as striping, signing and permitting must first take place, Martin said.
“One day it will be like normal and then we will re-stripe and shift to diverging diamond,” he said. The shifting will happen overnight.
As construction nears the 10th month, 99 percent of the traffic accidents have been caused by distracted driving.
“More accidents are rear-end accidents,” she said. “We take our safety on this project as well as all DOT projects very, very seriously.”
Claire Aronson: 941-745-7024, @Claire_Aronson