Recognized by Roads & Bridges as one of the Top Ten Bridges for 2015, the three-year expansion of Interstate 75 across the Caloosahatchee River between State Road 80 and State Road 78 in Lee County is now complete, widened from four to eight lanes. Official rankings will be announced in the publication’s November issue.
The de Moya Group/Leware Construction Company Joint Venture (JV) built the 1.6 mile, $71.5 million project, designed by C3TS/HDR, inspected by Eisman and Russo Consulting Engineers, and financed as a Public Private Partnership (P3). Major work included widening eight bridges and the connecting roadway across the Caloosahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, well known for its large manatee population and stands of red mangroves that provide habitat for the elusive, endangered smalltooth sawfish. Top down construction using straddle cranes reduced environmental impacts, and lane closures were allowed only between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. to ease impacts to the traveling public. Other project features included utility relocation and construction of stormwater management facilities, a median barrier system, and two sound barrier walls which shield nearby residences from traffic noise.
The project required extensive coordination between the Florida Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and eight permitting agencies: United States Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management District, United States Coast Guard, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Marine Fisheries Service and the Lee County Division of Natural Resources.
“This I-75 project bridges the way between Lee and Charlotte counties and is the last segment of widening to six lanes in Lee County to increase capacity and to minimize congestion through this important corridor,” said FDOT Interstate Engineer Nik Patel.