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FL Interstate Project Safety Assessed

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

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In late September, an acident on the I-4 Ultimate project, in Orlando, Florida, involving a cement girder, resulted in a worker fatality. More recently, a report was released, indicating the potential cause and construction protocols recommended to change in order to prevent such a fatality from happening again.

According to WFTV9, worker Ulises Corrales Ibarra was crushed under a cement girder near the I-4 and 408 interchange. Ibarra was reportedly the fifth worker to be killed on the project; all deaths have been struck-by incidents.

I-4 Ultimate Project History

According to the Florida Department of Transportation, the I-4 Ultimate project is intended to create “a signature corridor that connects communities, improves economies and enhances livability throughout the region.” This means improving the functionality of I-4, as well as underscoring the area’s history and character. The 21-mile, $2.3 billion project runs from Kirkman Road, in Orange County, to State Road 434, in Seminole County.

Skanska USA Civil Southeast, Inc., Granite Construction Company and Lane Construction Corporation are collaborating as a joint venture on design-build. HDR Engineering and Jacobs Engineering Group are working as a joint venture on design. Construction commenced in 2015, and is slated for substantial completion by 2021. 

Florida Department of Transportation

In late September, an accident on the I-4 Ultimate project, in Orlando, Florida, involving a cement girder, resulted in a worker fatality involving a cement girder. More recently, a report was released, indicating the potential cause and construction protocols that are recommended to change in order to prevent such a fatality from happening again.

With interstate construction being completed in 1965, an increase in tourism popularity also meant a rise in traffic congestion. Funding at least partially came from the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which ultimately resulted in the creation of 41,000 highway miles across the U.S. (The act provided 90% of funding for the projects, while respective states provided the final 10%.)

Over the years, Florida became the fourth most populous state. As a result, FDOT looked at double-decking the interstate in order to create the 12 to 14 lanes that would be needed to accommodate traffic. That plan wound up being non-viable.

With the goal of easing traffic congestion, the project will implement four new tolled express lanes. Additionally, 13 bridges will be widened, 74 bridges will be replaced and 53 new bridges will be built. Accent lighting, illuminated fountains and the inclusion of native plant species will also add to the aesthetics of the I-4 Ultimate.

Recent Report

In October, WFTV9 obtained documents consisting of a report from structural engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti. The report was developed after the fatality, detailing that the girder in question was detached from the crane before it was completely braced. An Orlando Police Department report also indicated that Ibarra was working in a hoist cage at the time. The girder fell out of control and crushed him, along with the equipment.

In the report by Tomasetti, the firm reports that the beam would have not overturned if it had been braced and attached to the crane. To help prevent such an incident from happening again, the firm also recommended that the crane remain “attached to the beam … until all bracing is installed as a redundancy measure."

Michael Gibbons, of Lowndes Law, told WFTV9 that the procedures in place for “installing these very heavy 65,000-pound precast girders were inadequate in retrospect.”

Gibbons went on to add that shop drawings depicted a kickstand that would serve to support the girder during installation, and this step was part of procedure. He also noted that the report depicted changes to what occurred when the kickstand was being put in place. The key difference with the “post-accident sequencings” was that while the bracing was still being installed, the girder was supported by the crane.

"So at all times there is no little window of time, the way there was in the original sequencing, where you can have a shifting or falling of the 65,000-pound girder,” Gibbons said.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Health and safety; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways

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