Bridging Time: The Jupiter Federal Highway Bascule Bridge Revival
The Federal Highway/US-1 Bascule Bridge in Jupiter, Florida, spans the Loxahatchee River at Jupiter Inlet on the Intracoastal Waterway, connecting the mainland to Jupiter Island. It’s a crucial passage for both vehicular and maritime traffic, providing access to popular destinations, residences and recreational areas. A “bascule” bridge is a type of drawbridge characterized by its movable portion, which pivots upward to allow boats and ships to pass underneath. The term originates from the French word for “seesaw,” imitating the motion of the bridge as it lifts and pivots.
The original Federal Highway in Jupiter was constructed in 1958 and over the years became an iconic part of the local landscape. The bridge holds cultural significance for the local community, as it represents both a historical landmark and a critical piece of infrastructure. However, as infrastructure ages and transportation demands evolve, it became necessary to replace the old bridge, which has been declared functionally obsolete by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), to ensure safety and functionality, as well as accommodate modern traffic requirements. Due to the outdated nature of the old Federal Highway Bridge and changing transportation needs, a $122 million project was initiated to replace the bridge with a new and improved structure. The replacement project aimed to not only address the bridge’s obsolescence, but to incorporate contemporary design and engineering standards.
FDOT approved the project to replace the bridge which according to their website will consist of, “Two 11′ travel lanes in each direction, 8′ sidewalks and 7′ bike lanes in both directions. Pedestrians will be separated from traffic with permanent concrete barriers. The new bridge will be a twin double-leaf drawbridge with up to 42′ of vertical clearance and a navigable channel width of 125′. The new bridge also will feature a concrete bridge deck to reduce traffic noise, a new tender house and pedestrian overlooks.”
In November 2021, CSDA member Accu-Cut Concrete Services, Inc. secured a subcontract from the General Contractor (GC) of the project, Johnson Brothers, to execute concrete cutting and drilling tasks within theproject scope. These tasks included cutting 250 new 30″
x 30″ piles cut to elevation, as well as dismantling the old bridge and the adjacent observation pier using diamond blade sawing and drilling.
Due to the demanding schedule, the closure of US-1 was necessary. The GC commenced the installation of piles and the construction of portions of the new bascule piers located outside the footprint of the former bridge, all while the old bridge remained operational. Accu-Cut embarked on wire sawing operations for the adjacent pedestrian observation pier removal in November 2021. In July 2022, Accu-Cut began cutting several of the new 30″ x 30″ piles designated to support the primary bascule piers of the new bridge. These piles were cut in areas not overlapping with the previous bridge’s footprint.
Although most of the piles needed to be cut underwater, Accu-Cut effectively performed these pile cuts using their patented Stingray Pile Saw. The Stingray Saw is a wire saw that was designed by Accu-Cut President, John Robinson, and patented specifically as a method of cutting various types of piles, concrete, steel “H” piles and pipe piles, as well as a combination of both concrete and steel piles.
The Stingray can cut above and below water and is very efficient as well as considerably safer than other pile-cutting methods. Following these wire saw cuts, the GC commenced construction of the new main bascule piers on both sides of the existing bridge, which was operational and scheduled for removal in March 2023.
Starting on March 13, 2023, the old bridge closed to traffic, with Accu-Cut beginning the removal on March 14, 2023. During the period between March 14th and March 31st, Accu-Cut skillfully conducted 5,038 linear feet of 8″ bridge deck sawing and executed 302 diaphragm cuts. These cuts facilitated the removal of the deck and girders by the GC. Following a significant removal of the deck and girders, Accu-Cut proceeded to wire saw each pile cap in half. Subsequently, multiple Stingray Saws were utilized to cut each pile beneath the cap, leaving the old piles in a condition that allowed the GC to extract them using
a vibratory pile hammer. Meanwhile, the GC enclosed each old bascule pier with a coffer cell and employed an excavator equipped with a substantial hydraulic hammer to demolish them. This demolition process occurred in tandem with the bridge’s dismantling and removal.
Numerous challenges were encountered during the project, including frequent thunderstorms, the consistent flow of marine traffic—predominantly comprised of tourist and pleasure boats—through the site’s channel, which needed to remain accessible. Additionally, the close proximity of the new construction sections to the old bridge added complexity. All removed concrete from the old bridge was loaded onto and transported by barges to the Port of Palm Beach, where it was subsequently crushed, and its concrete and steel components recycled. Delays occasionally occurred due to the timing of material barge transportation for offloading and return trips, which impacted the continuous removal process.
As with all projects undertaken by Accu-Cut, strict adherence to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including fall protection and personal floatation devices (PFDs), was observed by personnel. The removal of the old bridge was completed within the planned schedule. Presently, the construction of the new bridge is ongoing, with Accu-Cut actively still cutting new piles as of August 2023. The anticipated completion of the entire project is projected for November 2024. The new bridge is expected to provide improved functionality, safety features and a renewed connection between Jupiter and its neighboring areas. John Robinson, President of Accu-Cut, said about this project, “Accu-Cut Concrete Services, Inc. has worked with Clay Bores and the Johnson Brothers team on several other successful projects in the past. We are looking forward to continuing to provide our services to this project through its completion.”
COMPANY PROFILE Accu-Cut Concrete Services, Inc. has been in business for over 30 years. They are based in Clearwater, Florida. They have a fleet of 6 trucks and service the southeastern United States and the Caribbean Islands. They have also performed services as far north as North Dakota. Accu-Cut also has a machine shop where equipment is fabricated and maintained in-house and they also provide equipment repair services for other cutting and demolition companies. They have been a CSDA member since 2002. RESOURCES General Contractor Johnson Brothers CSDA Contractor Accu-Cut Concrete Services, Inc. Contact: John Robinson Email: email@example.com Tel: 727-787-4843 Website: www.accucutconcrete.com Methods Used: Wire sawing, Slab Sawing