Replacement work on two bridges to start soon
By Eric Kalis
Plans to replace two Miami River bridges are progressing concurrently, with work scheduled to begin on both projects in September.
Florida Department of Transportation officials expedited replacement of the Fifth Street Bridge after the 78-year-old structure was struck twice in July 2005.
Michael Sileno, engineer for Hardesty & Hanover, a firm working with the Department of Transportation on the project, said at last week's Miami River Commission Meeting that demolition of the existing bridge will begin Sept. 30 with work continuing until February. Construction of the new bridge is scheduled to begin in May 2008, four years before the original target date.
The state has budgeted more than $43 million to replace the 60-foot-wide bridge, which spans 133 feet over the river and is opened an average 50 times a day. Mr. Sileno said vertical clearance for marine traffic will remain at 12 feet while horizontal clearance will grow from 75 to 150 feet.
"Navigation should be happy about (the horizontal clearance)," Mr. Sileno said. "The new bridge will be substantially bigger than the existing one."
The new bridge will have a five-lane section with a center median and 8-foot sidewalks on both sides. The project coincides with plans for the Miami River Greenway, a 10-mile pedestrian path to be built along the river with 19 restaurants and seven parks. Mr. Sileno said the Department of Transportation will coordinate construction schedules with City of Miami officials.
"I know conversations about this bridge have not always been positive," said Miami River Commission Chairwoman Irela Bagué. "But we appreciate the continued participation and proactive relationship both sides have."
River Commission Managing Director Brett Bibeau said the commission will write a letter to Clear Channel Communications, which owns a parcel of green space next to the bridge, to negotiate use of a portion of the land to build a path parallel to the bridge.
Meanwhile, Department of Transportation Engineer Travis Brilliant told the commission that replacement of the 71-year-old Northwest 12th Avenue Bridge will begin Sept. 5, with work expected to take almost three years. The bridge, which stretches 150 feet, is to be demolished in December 2007. The new bridge will be 110 feet wide, twice the width of the current bridge, with six traffic lanes and two control towers designed to resemble the Hindu Temple at Seybold Canal, he said.
The project will cost $64 million in federal funds. L.B. Foster Company was awarded a $2.5 million contract last month to provide decking and steel sheet piling for the bridge.
Mr. Brilliant said there will be two sets of three-day closures to marine traffic to accommodate construction.
Both projects earned unanimous approval from the commission.
"This is exactly what is in the urban-infill plan," Ms. Bagué said. "We appreciate the consistency."