Signature Bridge Is Already Tapping Contingency Funds While Adding Time To Schedule (Despite A Promise To Build Fast)

Miami’s $802 million Signature Bridge won’t be completed in four years as originally promised or within budget.

A spokesperson for the project confirmed both the time and the cost overrun.

The time overrun is particularly troubling, since a promise to build quickly was the primary reason contractor Archer Western- de Moya Joint Venture was selected as the winning bidder for the project in 2017.

Archer Western’s proposal had been ranked low by a local committee during the 2017 selection process. At the last minute, Archer Western shortened their work plan from five years to four years, giving them a half point victory in a ranking and making them the winning bidder in what Sunshine State News said was a process that had been rigged by FDOT (local residents were forbidden from seeing the proposals and participating in the selection, but a local committee had ranked the Archer Western proposal low for aesthetics).

Last year at this time, a project website estimated completion in fall of 2023. Now, the website is estimating completion a year later, in fall 2024.

A spokesperson for the project explained the reasons for the time and cost overruns.

Oscar Gonzalez, a senior community outreach specialist for the project, explained to The Next Miami that contingency funds have been used to cover the increased costs of materials and labor. The sharp rise in steel prices in particular is affecting the budget for the project.

While the contractor had been given a four year deadline to completion that began in October 2018, extra days are permitted to be added to the completion deadline when there are special events, holidays, or weather delays. A total of 80 days have been granted by FDOT so far, including for events at the Arsht Center, American Airlines Arena, Bayfront Park and Marlins Park, Gonzalez said.

Work will likely be suspended for extended periods during the upcoming Super Bowl Festivities, according to Gonzalez. Extension days will also be added for Art Basel, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, the International Boat Show, and the Miami Marathon.

A significant number of weather delay days are also expected to be granted, since the project involves a large amount of rain-sensitive concrete work for the bridge substructure and superstructure. On I-95, concrete pavement replacement will take place both northbound and southbound from NW 8 Street to NW 29 Street.

A water main under Bayshore Drive will also unexpectedly need to be relocated, adding time.

The one year extra in completion is just a projection for now based on the number of delay days forecast, Gonzalez said.