A gap on a stretch of South Florida highway drew a stir on social media this week, with people worried that it didn’t “look safe at all!” But after state transportation workers inspected the highway, they say there’s no need to worry: It’s safe and all part of the highway’s design.
The Florida Department of Transportation said it recently received several reports from residents who called attention to the gap. It is part of what’s known as an “expansion joint,” including one on the segmental bridge that connects Interstate 595 and the Sawgrass Expressway. These expansion joints allow the bridge segments to safely expand and contract amid the hot weather, said spokesman Guillermo Canedo.
And it’s been a hot month, with a heat advisory in effect Tuesday that warns temperatures can feel like it’s 110 degrees outside.
Still, because the expansion joint still may draw drivers’ attention, the agency will find “aesthetic solutions to cover these gaps in the barrier walls, so they are less noticeable,” he said.
After one resident’s recently reported concern, inspectors and engineers went to inspect the highway.
“The area of concern noted by the member of the public was at the expansion joints in the bridge. All of the expansion joints were found to be intact and functioning as intended. From a structural integrity standpoint, there are no concerns with the ‘gap’ in the bridges, this was how the bridge was designed and built in 1989,” Canedo said.
All bridges, including both concrete and steel, are designed to expand in at specific locations — the expansion joints — when the temperature changes. Bridge expansion joints allow the bridge to move in a “predictable, repetitive manner” without damaging the structure, he said.
The expansion joints that get the most attention are more visible because they are located at mid-span, he said.
Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @LisaHuriash