ore details are emerging about how Bear Cut and West bridge rehabilitation work will proceed, and Key Biscayne residents will have several ways to stay informed during the project as more information comes to light and conditions change.
Representatives from both Kiewit Infrastructure South, the contractor performing the rehab for Miami-Dade County, and The Cunningham Group, the public relations firm hired to handle public information during the massive project, addressed the Village Council Tuesday, May 14, providing information both about how construction will work and how people can find out about real-time conditions on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
As Kiewit plans the inspection, it is also busy on other preliminary projects for the rehab.
At the May 14 meeting, Kiewit’s Frank DiGilio outlined what is happening now and how Kiewit will proceed in the future to finish the $31 million job – which involves installing new horizontal concrete beams to replace corroded steel beams, as well as a new concrete deck – by the end of February 2014, in advance of that year’s Sony Open tennis tournament at Crandon Park.
He stressed the new deck, or superstructure, will not weigh more than the existing bridge thanks to advances in technology.
DiGilio also described plans to fix 600 cubic feet of concrete spalling – i.e. areas where chunks of concrete have fallen off pilings, exposing metal rebar to the elements.
Currently, he said, Kiewit is in the design phase of the project – it’s contract with the County is a design/build deal – and is also taking soil samples alongside Bear Cut Bridge to prepare to drive pilings that will allow the bridge to be widened for a dedicated pedestrian/bicyclist lane.
Kiewit is also securing permits from County and federal regulatory agencies, DiGilio added.
He expects demolition work to start at the end of June.
According to DiGilio, Bear Cut Bridge will actually be the simpler project. He said Kiewit plans to start by replacing the northern part of the bridge – allowing the contractor to relocate a water main connected to the bridge – while traffic is routed to the south part of the structure. When that is done, crews will replace the center portion of the bridge, he said.
The West Bridge will be a little more complicated: DiGilio said in order to maintain two lanes of traffic, Kiewit will first push all traffic to the south and redo the western half and some of the eastern half of the bridge. Once that is complete, he said, the contractor will rebuild the middle portion of the bridge, routing traffic to either side of the construction area.
That means motorists will need to get used to three different traffic patterns during the project, DiGilio warned, but he assured residents there will be two lanes in and two lanes out at all times.
Village Manager John Gilbert said that will be essential: “They are required to keep two lanes in, two lanes out and a pedestrian- safe lane,” he said, although motorists will have to adjust to new tight patterns: “They’ll be narrower, and they’ll shift from side to side.”
That goes for the pedestrian lane too, the Manager noted: “Bikes will be as inconvenienced as the autos,” he said, describing a 6-foot-wide lane. “There will be a path, but it will be reduced.”
While DiGilio revealed Kiewit’s plans as they exist now, officials realize plans can change, and even if they don’t residents will need a ready source of real-time information.
Village officials stressed they want to avoid a situation where a traffic pattern changes overnight and residents aren’t aware of it as they set out on their morning commute.
Tasha Cunningham from The Cunningham Group said the effort will be largely digital, through a website, www.bearcutbridge.com, and variety of additional media that will be operational soon.
She said residents can text “Bear Cut” to 65047 for text message and email alerts, and follow the project on Twitter or Facebook. As for phone calls, project officials will rely on the County’s 311 information line: “That’s going to be the primary phone number we’ll be using,” she said.
Gilbert added everything will be tied into the Village website, www.keybiscayne.fl.gov, and the Village will make sure residents on its email and text message lists receive alerts.
He added the PR blitz will be similar to one that worked well for the Village’s beach restoration project last summer.
During that effort, contractors gave the Village daily and weekly construction updates, photos, a phone number for residents to call, etc., all of which was shared on the Village website.
Gilbert added bridge project officials will also appear at Council meetings to provide updates, at first at every bi-weekly meeting and later on a monthly basis.