The local 95 Express projects are part of a regional network of Express Lanes. Goals include improving mobility and emergency evacuation in an area known for hurricanes and accommodating future growth and development.
The entire Phase 3 runs from Stirling Road in Broward County to Linton Boulevard in Palm Beach County. It will connect with Interstate 595 to and from the west. FDOT broke the project into segments and let them as funding became available. Construction began in 2016 and is scheduled for completion in 2025.
The largest contract is Phase 3C, a $457 million, 9-mile segment through a densely populated area in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It will connect the 95 Express lanes with general lanes on I-595. 3C runs from Stirling Road to south of Broward Boulevard along I-95 and along I-595 from SR 7/U.S. 441/Turnpike Interchange to I-95.
“The most interesting part of this project was the fact that Florida has run out of room at this location,” says Archer Western Senior Project Manager Bernie Conway. “In order to widen the highway, we had to be rather ingenious with the design.”
FDOT was not able to take any additional right of way. Therefore, the Express Lanes had to be constructed in the existing footprint and with the highway’s old elements.
Work for this section includes adding an additional Express Lane in each direction, plus entrances and exits; additional lanes along I-595; creating new ramps to the Florida Turnpike; widening and painting the bridges; and adding tolling gantries, signage, and sound walls.
The team is building three flyovers to connect the 95 Express Lanes to I-595. Portions of two of the flyovers are in place, and the contractors expect to start the third one, over I-95 in August 2022. The nearness of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport presented some challenges.
“We could go no higher than the existing structures due to the proximity of the site to the airport,” Conway reports. “We have one flyover that is so low, we are going to be lowering the Interstate 95 mainline by 2.5 to 3 feet, so there will be enough clearance for the new bridge.”
In another section of the project at the SR 84 interchange, Archer Western and de Moya are building northbound lanes directly underneath bridges running in the same direction as the highway.
“With the lack of space, there was no room to widen the highway, so we are going underneath,” Conway says.
Crews jacked up the bridges, built most of the four new piers, and placed the existing bridge in a temporary position while they completed construction of the pier caps. Then crews lowered the bridge into place above the highway.
On I-595, crews will be removing an existing pier to make way for a new connection road to flow underneath it. The pier will be replaced with a straddle bent.
In this section, there will be two entrances to the 95 Express Lanes and three exits, including local lanes to the airport, to I-595, and to get to a park and ride parking lot.
The work also includes installing new signage. The lettering is larger than on the old road. The larger signs require enormous foundations.
One lane is closed during the day, and on nights and weekends additional lanes can be closed. Working so close to active traffic presents risks. One or two vehicles unexpectedly enter the work area and crash into protective devices each week. Fortunately, no workers have been injured.
This project was about 60 percent complete in July 2022 and is scheduled to finish in the fourth quarter of 2024.
The project includes adding a lane and converting the HOV lane to express lanes; reconfiguring the SR 808/Glandes Road interchange into a diverging diamond interchange; adding ramp signaling; reconstructing the Clint Moore Road Bridge over I-95; and widening the Glades Road bridge over the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority railroad tracks and Military Trail and the I-95 bridge over the C-15 Canal, between Peninsula Drive and Linton Boulevard.
This section will consume about 7,000 linear feet of piles and 10,000 cubic yards of concrete. The work is scheduled to finish in late 2023.
The Express Lanes are tolled with the amount charged varying on traffic volume.
Once the projects are done, drivers in the Fort Lauderdale area will have additional options when driving north and south on this busy corridor.
Construction began in early 2018 on Phase 3B-1, 4.8 miles from south of SW 10th Street to south of Glades Road. Prince also received the $102 million contract for this section, which included widening and converting the HOV lanes to Express Lanes. The number of general purpose lanes remain the same in this segment. Other work included reconstruction of I-95 on the approaches to the Hillsboro Canal bridges and construction of auxiliary lanes. The project was complete in October 2021.