- The Florida Department of Transportation has pegged the cost of building an additional eight-lane span at the site of the current Howard Frankland Bridge — part of Interstate 275 that connects Tampa and St. Petersburg — at $814 million, up from estimates of $750 million reported late last year. The department issued a draft request for proposals several weeks ago and plans to hold an industry forum on Sept. 17, publish its official design-build advertisement on Dec. 10 and award a contract in late 2019.
- According to an FDOT website dedicated to the Howard Frankland overhaul, the new span will include four general southbound lanes from Tampa toward St. Petersburg, two express toll lanes in each direction and a pedestrian-bicycle path that would be separated from interstate traffic by a chain link fence and Jersey barriers. The four lanes on the existing southbound span will be turned over for northbound traffic. The span now in use for northbound traffic will be demolished when new bridge construction is complete.
- In preparation for a future light-rail line, the state plans to widen the current southbound bridge to accommodate a rail line and then shift travel lanes around. The new bridge setup would also be able to handle autonomous vehicle traffic at some point as well. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2020 and open to traffic in 2024, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Two of the most important objectives of many DOT projects around the country are easing congestion and upgrading highways to accommodate advanced road technology and autonomous vehicles. This means that traditional bridge and road contractors have to develop in-house expertise or partner with technology companies that specialize in transportation if they want to provide a full menu of services.
For example, engineering and construction firm Fluor and Transurban Group, a manager and developer of toll road networks in Australia and the U.S., joined to form Capital Beltway Express, which entered into a public-private partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation to design, build, finance and operate a new express lane system along 14 miles of Interstate 495 (the Capital Beltway) in the Washington D.C., metro area.
In addition to replacing $260 million of old infrastructure, upgrading interchanges and adding four express lanes, the partnership also made alterations that will allow future connections with other freeways and their high occupancy vehicle lanes. The Fluor-Transurban team also installed a high-tech traffic management system that will aid in the free flow of traffic.