URS, the Tampa Hillsborough County Expressway Authority’s chief engineering consultant, also designed the foundations. URS’s contract mandated that the ground be probed 12 ft under each support piling and FDOT standards call for depths of 5 to 20 ft.

"Even though this specification is included in the contract documents, these cores/samples were not obtained during construction," said Jim Mouton, local FDOT director of operations, in a letter to interim authority director Ralph Mervine. FDOT engineers and consultants concluded that "the original borings performed for the design of this project revealed inconsistent soil conditions," the letter stated.

If the tests had been done, "the soft materials under the tips of the problematic shafts most likely would have been identified," Mouton added.

URS and Orlando-based Ardaman & Associates, hired by the authority to investigate why one pier subsided and why another nearby one slipped 1.3 in., submitted separate repair plans to the state (ENR 10/11/04, p. 15). FDOT chose Ardaman’s plan, which says 155 of the 218 supports must be strengthened.

"We don’t agree with the decision, but we respect it," says Tom Logan, URS vice president. "Our clients get what they want. And if that’s what they want to do, we’ll help them implement it."

Logan says mediation efforts have begun to determine who pays for the additional costs. "We’ve had a preliminary meeting and there is a tentative schedule to mediate this in June," Logan says. "Lawyers have to agree on dates, locations, and all the [insurance] carriers have to be in agreement, and we have to select a mediator."

Repair costs are estimated at $30 million. The estimated cost for the foundation problems is $75 million, including delay costs.


he Florida Dept. of Transportation has concluded that URS Corp. did not drill test shafts deep enough for the foundations of the $350-million elevated Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. Repair and delay costs due to sinking piers may be over $100 million.