Americas Transport Deal of the Year, Project Finance International Annual Awards, 2014
Alleviating congestion & making revolutionary updates to one of Florida’s busiest highways
Florida’s population and tourism numbers continue to soar, which has led to interstate congestion throughout the state, specifically in the Orlando area and for I-4. Immediate demand for improved interstate operations was necessary, but at conception the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) only had available funding for half of the $2.3 billion required for improvements to this corridor. Through a funding analysis, it was determined that the public-private-partnership (P3) delivery method would allow FDOT to design and construct the improvements in less than seven years as proposed to 27 years if built as funding became available.
As part of RS&H’s Statewide P3 and Engineering Support Services contract, we partnered with the FDOT Central Office to provide owner’s representative services to District 5 for the $2.3 billion widening of I-4. This project involved the complete reconstruction of I-4, including the construction of 144 new bridges, major upgrades to 15 urban interchanges, new Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) within the FDOT right-of-way, and 21 miles of new tolled express lanes, two eastbound and two westbound. As central Florida’s most vital transportation artery, the improvements to I-4 were crucial in relieving congestion and providing safer, more efficient traffic flow through the corridor.
Initially, the I-4 widening was planned as six separate design-build contracts. Each section’s design consultant produced plans suitable for defining right-of-way and permitting. RS&H played a key role in combining the various contracts into one design-build-finance-operate-maintain contract. Through RS&H’s value engineering study, the team identified and developed innovative alternatives to reduce project costs without sacrificing the overall level of service and project intent. RS&H also developed a detailed cost estimate for the combined project and cost evaluations of each alternative.
RS&H created a scale 3-D virtual model of the proposed and existing conditions, including traffic simulations at five major interchanges. Using the model, the team produced a multitude of materials, including a 15-minute video that gave an overview of the entire I-4 project, numerous high-resolution renderings, and animations of project innovations for future marketing opportunities. The visualizations developed for the I-4 corridor improvements was a milestone in large-scale transportation project communications. Even today, FDOT plays the video during each coordination meeting, as it “communicates in 15 minutes what would take any person two hours.” FDOT has begun using I-4 to set a new standard of visualization materials for similar projects.
Throughout the duration of this contract, RS&H delivered high-quality services as a partner, guiding FDOT in project development and supporting them every step of the way. RS&H was selected to provide oversight services during the operating period of the concession agreement of the I-4 Ultimate project, continuing to support FDOT for another five years through an important phase of the project.
The project team provided an unmatched level of commitment, expertise, and experience crucial to the execution of this unique project in a condensed nine-month timeline. The entire team worked tirelessly to deliver this unique project and restore a vital transportation network to the city.
The Lesner Bridge is arguably Virginia Beach's signature bridge and boasts an average annual daily traffic (AADT) count of over 20,000 vehicles. The City of Virginia Beach set a goal to produce a bridge with a 100-year lifespan that incorporated new aesthetics and safety measures.