As part of the design-build team led by contractor MCM Corporation, RS&H served as the prime design consultant for the widening of the Sawgrass Expressway Sunrise Mainline Toll Plaza in Broward County, Florida, which was converted to open-road tolling (ORT). RS&H was responsible for 1.33 miles of roadway widening north and south of the plaza, as well as complete reconstruction at the approaches to accommodate higher speeds. Other improvements included the construction of a double-span Signature SunPass Gantry, as well as demolition and/or modification of portions of the existing toll plaza, including concrete pavement, islands, canopy, tunnel, and aesthetics of the canopy and administration building. Also included were improvements and upgrades to the existing signage, lighting, and pavement marking.
Various challenges included:
- Maintaining traffic for more than 90,000 vehicles per day by keeping three manual and three SunPass lanes open in each direction throughout construction;
- Creating a bold architectural statement that would not only produce a welcoming image, but also increase safety for users and toll plaza workers at the facility; and
- Designing for future roadway expansion and eventually a completely cashless system. The team developed a complex Maintenance of Traffic plan that required 13 separate traffic shifts to complete the six major phases of construction and various sub-phases. Several of these phases required the conversion of toll lanes to accommodate contra-flow traffic.
The team also reused as much of the existing facility as possible to reduce costs and provided full-depth shoulders to allow for more travel lanes in the future.
A long-term goal of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise is to convert the Sawgrass Expressway, a six-lane, 23-mile toll road corridor to a completely cashless system that utilizes ORT, which allows users to pay tolls electronically at normal highway speeds without having to stop. Converting the system to ORT will not only deliver maximum potential in customer service by eliminating the need for users to queue at toll booths and reducing congestion, it will also produce numerous benefits to nearby residents and the environment, including lower fuel consumption and noise levels, as well as better air quality and increased safety.