The Veterans Memorial Bridge in Martin County is the first crossing over the Intracoastal Waterway successfully permitted and constructed in South Florida in more than 20 years. Despite challenges from the courtroom, the clock and members of the local community, the bridge stands today as a success.
So much so that the project has earned the 2016 Transportation National Award of Excellence given by Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA). RS&H served as engineer with design-builder Archer Western.
“The Veterans Memorial Bridge in Martin County, Florida, is a premier example of the design-build approach meeting challenging schedules and fostering innovation to produce a cost-effective project,” DBIA officials said. “The team never gave up pursuit of project acceptance, permit approvals, design, and construction. As a result, a once controversial project is now considered a resounding success by all stakeholders.”
The Veterans Memorial Bridge is just part of one of the largest design-build projects awarded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in 2009. It includes two miles of County Road 714, two intersection reconstructions, and a new 3,100-foot, high-level concrete bridge built within a highly sensitive environmental preserve.
Facing both legal and permitting challenges, the team worked extensively to complete drainage plans, drainage report, and documentation necessary to obtain the required environmental permits. There remains little trace of impact on the waterway due to the carefully designed and constructed work trestle, innovative launching and erection of girders, and use of cofferdams to minimize environmental impact.
“We had a project team that was sensitive not only to the cost and schedule, but also the environment, public acceptance and amenities,” said FDOT District 6 Secretary James Wolfe. “The design-build team factored all of that in.”
To support the public involvement efforts and bolster approval, the design-build team developed realistic renderings and animated 3D visualizations of the project corridor and bridge. Numerous meetings and stakeholder engagement events were held to improve awareness and the overall image of the bridge.
The design-build team met the short schedule required at the time to qualify for federal American Recovery and Reconstruction Act funding, intended to create near-term jobs, which boosted the project to the DBIA award. Additional reasons included achieving a lower bid, reducing cost over-runs, and reducing construction time over-runs.
All of this contributed to the award selection – and a new bridge that fits the needs of the local community perfectly, said Martin County Commissioner Ed Ciampi.
“That bridge has been remarkable,” Ciampi said. “Whether you’re driving over it, walking over it or living on either side of it, the bridge has just been a blessing for our community, and we couldn’t be happier.”