- Company: Bergeron Land Development, Inc.
- Industry: General Building
- Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
- Expected Completion Date: August 31, 2015
- Project Website
Port Everglades, located in Fort Lauderdale Florida, is an active seaport surrounded by environmentally sensitive Mangrove and Manatee habitats. The Port, run by the Broward County Commissioners, being protective and sensitive to the needs of the surrounding natural habitats, in the 1980’s promised to – Forever – protect the mangroves. This promise has a direct impact on the County Commissioners’ need to expand the seaport through the construction of the Southport Turning Notch; a series of five new berths to handle the influx of future Super Post Panamax Container cargo ships. The expansion is expected to be the catalyst for future economic growth in Broward County. The only way for the County Commissioners to expand the seaport is to destroy 8 acres of mangroves; clearly breaking the promise made in the 1980’s. To both expand the seaport and keep the promise to protect the mangroves, the County Commissioners gained approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to destroy 8 acres of existing mangroves residing in the footprint of the planned notch expansion site by constructing a new 16-acre mangrove habitat. Destruction of the 8 acres and construction of the Southport Turning Notch cannot begin until the newly planted 16-acre habitat has had 12 months to grow and thrive. The project has gained community-wide respect as an example of positive economic growth through the protection and the enhancement of environment.
Under a construction manager at risk agreement Bergeron Land Development, Inc. (Bergeron) was contracted to construct the new 16-acre mangrove habitat in an accelerated 13 month schedule. Bergeron completed the project on time and under budget. This newly created, over 16-acre, sprawling wetlands habitat was, at one time, no more than a disparaging terrain overgrown with invasive vegetation and littered with decades’ worth of construction and demolition debris.
As of August 2015, Bergeron entered into the 5-year maintenance services phase of the project. Bergeron will fulfill an essential role by monitoring and managing the growth of nearly 70,000 newly planted mangroves as they trend towards success and sustained survivorship. After a year of trending growth, Broward County will release an 8-acre portion of the existing conservation easement to allow for the construction of the Southport Turning Notch.
What impact does this project have on America?
The impact on America is multifold; the most significant of which is the protection and expansion of endangered habitats and at the same time, foster the economic growth of Broward County, South Florida, and the entire eastern seaboard. Our mangrove wetlands enhancement project was the keystone for the expansion of international trade through Broward County. New enlarged Super Post Panamax Container Ships traveling through the expanded Panama Canal have yet to establish a firm home base in the United States due to limited size accommodations. Broward County hopes to be the first to invite these great vessels, which are currently too large for any Florida seaports, including Port Everglades (thus the need for expansion of Broward County Southport Turning Notch).
What interesting obstacles or unusual circumstances did you overcome to complete the project?
Bergeron’s original scope included 4,400 cubic yards of buried construction and demolition (C&D) debris. As a result of unforeseen conditions, Bergeron was faced with the daunting task of processing nearly four times than the initial estimate of 4,400 cubic yards of C&D debris. Schedule constraints and planting deadlines associated with winter manatee regulations dictated that Bergeron prosecute excavation and C&D removal in a more streamlined and efficient approach. Minimal time considerations were offered to Bergeron for this added effort, however Bergeron’s experience and resolve pushed the project to completion without delaying mangrove plantings and ultimate Time-Zero* achievement. Bergeron worked hand-in-hand with nearby debris processing facilities and dedicated enhanced crews and equipment to ensure waste was leaving the job site as efficiently as possible.
Also part of the project scope was the requirement to provide an 85/15 organic planting substrate material suitable for the installation of mangrove plantings. During the development of the pricing component of the project, Bergeron gave consideration to re-utilizing excavated soil as organic planting material. Unfortunately, as a result of the aforementioned unforeseen increases in quantities of C&D debris, and the innate impacts to surrounding subsoils caused by C&D debris, Bergeron was faced with another obstacle in regards to unacceptable arsenic levels observed in the excavated fill. To mitigate for potential impacts to plantings, Bergeron implemented heightened quality control, including representative soil analyses for all excavated soils, and water testing in the areas where this high-arsenic fill was being removed, ultimately leading Bergeron to abandon (in the best interest of the Mangroves) any attempts to re-use fill on site. Bergeron outsourced the purchase of clean substrate fill which served to not only meet the specifications but also provide the optimal product in which plantings would sustain healthy growth. *Time zero was the date on which the last mangrove was installed and the clock began for the impending 1-year release of the section of existing conservation easement which was to be demolished to make way for the new expanded South Port turning notch.
What dangers and risks did you encounter, and describe any extraordinary methods used to keep workers safe?
The inherent but atypical safety risks of this project, as compared to many projects in Broward County, were observed during in-water, barge related work. Workers were trained and required to use and maintain heightened personal protective equipment, including personal floatation devices and throw rings, as well as retro-reflective clothing, hard-hats, gloves, etc. As many trades were working in close proximity to one another around the water, extensive planning and coordination via the use of spotters, radio communication, and verbal commands were necessary to maintain safe work activities adjacent to crane and barge movements.
Given the fact that the project’s water bodies were saline in nature and directly connected to the Port Everglades inlet; workers were trained to be more cognizant of marine species that could pose a hazard to either themselves or equipment. An official manatee watch program was implemented to limit the potential impact that Bergeron’s work could have on this endangered species. Field workers were also outfitted with skin protection to mitigate impacts from encountering water-borne hazards such as jellyfish, and barnacles.
How did you leverage new technologies to work faster and reduce waste?
With respect to final elevations for plantings, accuracy, with little to no tolerance for variance, was an imperative component of this project; for example, the design team actually revised the plans from .6 North American Vertical Datum (NAVD) down to 0.0 NAVD for the red mangrove planters due to concerns they were originally planned at too high of an elevation for survival. In support of traditional pre-surveyed layout for final grading, Bergeron leveraged GPS machine control and computer modeling to achieve precise final substrate elevations upon which mangroves were ultimately planted. This GPS implementation has paid dividends throughout the project both in terms of saving valuable contract time and eliminating potential for waste. GPS machine control eliminated the need for field layout to be constantly re-established/re-staked due to daily loss of grades during work activities (as many field layout based projects experience); and thus allowed Bergeron to work faster and more efficiently during grading activities. As desired grades were achieved site-wide via the use of GPS system, there have been minimal quantities of planted species lost since initial plantings. Minimal species loss has eliminated the need for continuous replacement activities and has mitigated the potential for the wasting of initially healthy planted species month after month.