Moore Haven Bridge’s Growth Spurt Lets Cars, Boats Sail Right Through

Boats headed across Florida, via Lake Okeechobee will be better able to maneuver the Intracoastal Waterway once the Moore Haven Bridge across the Caloosahatchee River is completed sometime this fall.

The old two-lane bridge was a two-leaf drawbridge and the new bridge will be a four-lane fixed span bridge with a 16.9-meter (55.5 ft.) vertical clearance, allowing for unimpeded traffic flow of both vehicles and boats, according to Rick Ward, senior project engineer for Sverdrup Civil Inc., which is overseeing the project for the Florida Department of Transportation. Sverdrup part of Jacobs Engineering.

The $20-million project started in July of 1997 and is 85 percent completed, Ward said, with the southbound lanes already open to traffic and work on the northbound under way.

“On the northbound we have the main girder spans set and we’re in the process of putting in the diaphragms and crossbeams between girders,” Ward said.

“The most unique thing about this bridge,” he said “is, I’ve been told, that it is the longest concrete post-tension bridge [at 320 feet] in the country.”

In a post-tension bridge, he said, a haunch girder sits on top of a pier, or column, like a see-saw, in this case a 42.7-meter (140 ft.) long see-saw, with 21.3 meters (70 ft.) of girder on either side of the column. On another pier, another 42.7-meter (140 ft.) long haunch girder is placed, and, in between those two a 54.9-meter (180 ft.) girder, shaped like an I-beam is positioned.

In each girder, like grommets in laced shoes, are holes, staggered the length of the vertical section. These are stitched together with cable and grout is applied. After the cable is stitched through the holes and released, a tension forms that holds and tightens the girders.

These beams were built in Jacksonville, in the extreme northeastern section of Florida, and shipped, down the Intracoastal Waterway through Lake Okeechobee (which is in the southern third of the state), to the job site, Ward said.

The prime contractor for the project is Middlesex Corp. of Pasadena, CA.

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