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July 2017

I-4 Ultimate Project Receives National Award for Sustainability

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The I-4 Ultimate project in Central Florida received the prestigious Envision Platinum award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) during a recent ceremony at the project’s office in Maitland.

The award recognizes the wide-ranging efforts to make the 21-mile reconstruction project sustainable and environmentally friendly. Presenters noted that this is the first time a Florida project has been so honored and the first time a highway project earned the highest – Platinum – distinction.

“The I-4 corridor is not just about transportation,” said Susan Hann, a board member of ISI and its immediate past chair. “The corridor impacts commerce, communities and quality of life every single day.”

The Envision Platinum Certification shows that the I-4 Ultimate project, which ranks as the largest infrastructure project in state history, also can rank high in concern for threatened wildlife, control of stormwater runoff, use of locally appropriate plants, creating public spaces that bring people together and integrating alternative forms of transportation such as walking and bike trails.

The award also shows that large transportation projects can take into account the needs of the communities affected, said Loreen Bobo, P.E. who is the I-4 Ultimate Construction Program Manager for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which oversees the 21-mile project.

“We are building a safer corridor for everyone who travels through it,” she said.

The project will remake the six-lane interstate from west of the Kirkman Road in Orange County interchange to east of the interchange with State Road 434 in Seminole County. It will build or widen 140 bridges, reconfigure 15 major interchanges and add four Express Lanes (two in each direction). It is scheduled for completion in 2021.

Brook Brookshire, who is the I-4 Ultimate Project Director for SGL – the construction joint venture of Skanska, Granite and Lane – talked about the aesthetic appeal of the project along with ongoing recycling efforts. By recycling 99 percent of the concrete and steel, the team lessens costs and environmental impacts. Brookshire said the team has recycled 100,000 tons of concrete, steel, asphalt, wood and plastics.

The $2.3 billion project overseen by FDOT is a public-private investors in which private partners help fund the project, advancing the completion date by at least 20 years. Other major partners in the project at the ceremony included I-4 Mobility Partners, HDR Engineering, Inc. and Jacobs Design Group.

Created in 2012 through collaboration between ISI and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the Envision system rates the impact of sustainable infrastructure projects as a whole. The system measures sustainability in five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Natural World, Resource Allocation, and Climate and Risk. These key areas contribute to the positive social, economic and environmental impacts on a community.

According to information on the ISI website, ISI is a nonprofit “founded by the American Public Works Association (APWA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and operates under their oversight.”

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I-4 Ultimate Construction Heats Up in Downtown Orlando

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Months of underground utility and drainage work for the I-4 Ultimate project are beginning to bear fruit as considerable roadway construction progress is being made in the downtown Orlando area.

Last month, a new entrance ramp to eastbound Interstate 4 (I-4) opened from Garland Avenue. The new ramp replaced the loop ramp from eastbound Colonial Drive (State Road 50). Instead of turning right from eastbound Colonial Drive onto the eastbound I-4 entrance ramp, motorists now turn left onto northbound Garland Avenue. Motorists then can take the left fork to enter the new eastbound I-4 entrance ramp.

In the next few weeks, Garland Avenue, south of Colonial Drive, is scheduled to be realigned to its permanent location. Instead of moving to the east of an eastbound I-4 ramp and bridge over Colonial Drive currently under construction, Garland Avenue will continue straight toward Colonial Drive, in-between I-4 and the ramp construction.

Also on the horizon, a new westbound I-4 entrance ramp from southbound Orange Blossom Trail (U.S. 17-92/441) is scheduled to open. The temporary ramp will be lengthened to a distance of two-thirds of a mile, making it more than four times longer than the old ramp. In addition to the ramp shift, the westbound I-4 travel lanes will be shifted to newly paved lanes. The westbound I-4 traffic shift is about a quarter of a mile.

Coming up in early to mid-August, I-4 motorists should expect nighttime closures of westbound and eastbound I-4 at State Road (S.R.) 408 as construction crews continue their work on widening S.R. 408 to make room for new ramps. Know in advance of upcoming ramp openings and nighttime construction closures by signing up for I-4 Ultimate Advance Construction Alerts at Constrcution alerts are also posted on the project website at

Borrowing Sand to Build I-4 Ultimate

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For those building the I-4 Ultimate project, the word “sand” does not convey instability, as in the phrase “the shifting sands.”

Sand, in fact, represents a stable, dependable, compactable material – one that forms the foundation of some of the largest structures on the 21-mile improvement project. Why is simple, plentiful sand so important?

To ensure the stability of roadways, bridges and flyovers, the I-4 Ultimate team not only has to put steel pilings and concrete support structures deep in the ground, but the team actually has to build up the foundations and roadbeds upon which the new roadway will sit.

Central Florida soils often contain a good deal of organic matter – materials that can decompose over time. That can cause the ground to shift under heavy structures. The decaying matter also can release chemicals that corrode metallic support structures.

The construction team must import the sand from elsewhere. “That permits for better compaction and assures that metal straps on the bridge approaches and raised roadways stay strong and won’t be impacted by decaying organics,” said Timothy Copple, Borrow Pit Manager for SGL – the construction joint partnership of Skanska, Granite and Lane.

So far the I-4 Ultimate team has used 2.2 million cubic yards of sand (as measured while still in the ground) and the team expects to use another 4.5 million cubic yards before completion in 2021. That’s enough to fill the Great Pyramid of Giza twice.

In the construction trades, the sand is said to be borrowed, so the place or mine where it comes from is called a borrow pit. Some of the sand used on the I-4 Ultimate project has come from a borrow pit in Apopka.

The team works to select borrow pit locations in environmentally responsible ways. “We make it a priority to find pit locations that represent our strong commitment to the environment,” said Russ Handler, Communications Coordinator for SGL. “That’s exactly what we have done when selecting the pit at the Apopka Northwest Recreational Complex.”

In the future, the Apopka location will store reclaimed water that will support migratory birds, local wildlife and complement the adjacent recreation park, Handler said.

I-4 Ultimate Team Prepares for Hurricane Season

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As the hurricane season moves toward its most active months, the I-4 Ultimate team remains alert and ready to put its emergency preparation plans in place in case severe weather strikes Central Florida.

The team follows state-approved policies to keep the public and employees safe and to minimize damage to structures and equipment. Project managers also review their plans to keep essential personnel on duty and in safe locations.

The official hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. But the period from mid-August through mid-October accounts for 78 percent of tropical storms and more than 87 percent of hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When the Florida Department of Transportation gives the order, the I-4 Ultimate team follows its approved procedures to secure or remove traffic barrels, barricades, temporary signage and any other items that strong winds can carry off. Workers also may lower the overhead lights on high-mast poles.

SGL – the construction joint venture of Skanska, Granite and Lane – ensures project staff and everything on the project remains safe. Some of the first preparations include stocking up on emergency supplies and making sure that SGL equipment such as trucks, excavators, bulldozers and portable pumps and generators are fueled and working properly.

After the storm, the team inspects the site for damage, begins safe cleanup activities and then gets back to its regular work schedule on the 21-mile project as soon as possible.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles also has information and links for those who want to make sure their own severe weather plans are up-to-date.

Spotlight Employee: Kim Braswell

Kim Braswell
SGL Survey Team Member
Area 4

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“It was almost as if I knew that I was going to be hired.”

Kim Braswell was so determined to work on the I-4 Ultimate project that she bought a dog tag and put her name and “I-4 Ultimate Surveyor” on it before she was hired. “It was almost as if I knew that I was going to be hired,” she said.

Braswell started out as a pile driving laborer 28 years ago. From there she worked her way up to being a bridge carpenter. But she always admired and envied the surveyors and jumped at the chance to be one. Her first job was up on a bridge beam with a company not affiliated with the I-4 Ultimate project. “Back then they didn’t have any safety cables,” she said. “But I was so proud of myself, and I was proud of what I was doing. She managed to stay focused and determined and eventually became a part of the survey department. “I fell in love with it and stayed with that company for about 21 years,” she said.

A surveyor figures out the layout for a project by translating the plans drawn up by an engineer. The surveyor takes the coordinates of the plan and determines where they are on the actual work site. “We are the first ones on the job and the last to leave,” Braswell said.

Braswell loves being a surveyor and seeing the finished project. “It's a very proud feeling to look and see that I was a part of this,” she said. “This is a field I never thought I would fall into, and fall in love with and have such a passion for."

Braswell moved to Orlando from Tennessee when she was in first grade. She’s seen the city grow a lot and said that I-4 has needed this update for a long time. The I-4 Ultimate project is the biggest infrastructure project in the history of Florida, and Braswell thinks it’s going to attract a lot of people to the city. “Not just because it's going to be beautiful,” she said. She believes the new corridor will promote mobility, safety and economic growth throughout the Orlando region.

Public participation is solicited without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability or family status. Persons who require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or persons who require translation services (free of charge) should contact Jennifer Smith, FDOT Title VI Coordinator by phone at (386) 943-5367, or via email at If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact us by using the Florida Relay Service, 1-800-955-8771 (TDD) or 1-800-955-8770 (Voice).