For the second year in a row, an elevated rail project at Miami International Airport (MIA) has won both the top award in its construction category as well as the safety prize. This year, Odebrecht-OHL Joint Venture's AirportLink Metrorail Extension (Orange Line) project received recognition both for the team's exemplary safety achievements and for the building of a complicated structure over hazardous terrain.

As part of a $360.4-million contract, the Odebrecht-OHL team constructed the 2.4-mile double-track, elevated heavy rail extension of Miami-Dade's Metrorail from the existing Earlington Heights station to the Miami Intermodal Center, located at the airport.

In addition to the guideway, contractors built a three-level Metrorail station, three power substations and a bus station and restored and constructed new roadways.

Erecting the overhead structure—which included both U-beams and segmental bridge construction—required jumping several hurdles, including two rail lines, numerous state roads and highways as well as the Miami River. But before the elevated work could begin, contractors first had to overcome the foundation challenges. The area's high water table caused huge dewatering issues when contractors attempted to install the cast-in-place pile caps. As a solution, the project team placed a tremie seal concrete slab at the bottom of the pile-cap excavation to contain the water.

Building over the river required that contractors initially place precast concrete segmental units directly from a barge. After setting the first segments, crews then used a self-launching gantry to erect the segments in a cantilever fashion.

In spite of these dangers, the team worked more than 2 million man-hours without an OSHA recordable injury, 878 days without an incident and more than two years without a lost-time incident.

Considering the project's inherent construction challenges, safety judge Gaylord Ballard called the end results "fantastic," adding that Odebrecht-OHL's safety efforts represented "one of the most effective programs in use today."

Key Players

Contractor Odebrecht-OHL Joint Venture, Miami

Owner Miami-Dade County, Miami

Lead Designer URS Corp., Miami

Architect Perez and Perez, Miami

Engineers MEG, Miami; BND Engineers, Miami; SDM Consulting, Coral Gables, Fla.