Prince Contracting is hard at work on projects such as the Bruce B. Downs highway, I-75 at University Parkway and the I-95 Express Lanes project.
By Eric Slack
A leading civil construction company in Florida, Prince Contracting specializes in highway, heavy construction and site development. Self-performing the majority of its work, Prince can deliver quality projects using conventional and innovative methods.
“Today we have around 750 employees specializing in heavy civil construction like roadways, bridges and underground utility work,” Contracts Administrator Ryan Jackson says. “We currently have about 15 offices in Florida with our corporate headquarters located in Tampa.”
Founded in 1983, Prince is capable of performing all the critical elements of civil construction and transportation projects. Its primary focus is on transportation and infrastructure development for state and municipal authorities across Florida and the Southeast.
Jackson has been with the company for nine years. After having been out in the field for most of his career, Jackson now works as the contracts administrator in the company’s headquarters, handling things like subcontracts, purchase orders, contracts with owners, design/build contracts and joint-venture agreements.
Bid/build and design/build roadway projects are the company’s specialties, as its crews can perform the clearing, earthmoving, drainage, utility, road base, bridge and concrete work. In 2014, Prince was acquired by Dragados Construction USA, a subsidiary of ACS Group, one of the largest civil construction companies in the world.
“In the heavy civil world, estimating is critical,” Jackson says. “Our estimating department is constantly working on putting the best possible bids together. Florida is getting more into design/build projects and working with engineers and designers as opposed to the low-bid approach. That is why we’ve been doing more of the design/build kind of work over the last five years. We’ve won and completed a number of design/build projects. That is an area where we have been seeing a lot of progress, and our estimating team is doing a great job in that area.”
One of Prince’s ongoing heavy highway jobs is the Bruce B. Downs project with the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners. It is a 3.55-mile, $36.1 million project to reconstruct a four-lane rural roadway and turn it into an eight-lane urban roadway. The project began in October 2014 and will last for 815 days.
Other work as part of the project includes widening the southbound Cypress Creek Crossing bridge from two lanes to four, and constructing a brand-new four-lane northbound bridge. Prince will also install a closed storm drainage system for the length of the project; add four offsite storm drainage ponds; construct a retaining and gravity wall with handrails; and install signing, pavement markings, signalization and an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). “That is a high-publicity project, and underground utility work is a challenge, particularly when running through an urban corridor,” Jackson says.
Jackson also mentions Atlantic TNG’s work on the project. Atlantic TNG provides precast products and service to the utility construction industry in Florida. “We have worked with them quite a bit,” Jackson says. “They provided about half-a-million dollars’ worth of material on this project.”
Another ongoing project will widen and improve I-75 at University Parkway in Manatee and Sarasota counties. A $74.5 million project that started in July 2015, it is scheduled for 745 days. It is a high-profile project that consists of constructing a diverging diamond interchange system, the first of its kind in Florida. Additionally, Prince will add lanes, as well as mill, resurface and widen the existing lanes. Work also includes new bridge construction, existing bridge rehabilitation, base work, shoulder treatment, drainage improvements, guardrail, curb and gutter, concrete traffic separators, sidewalks, signage and installing an ITS on I-75.
“One big aspect of that job was construction of a temporary bridge installed for interstate traffic,” Jackson says. “That was a big challenge, as it was the widest ACROW temporary bridge in the country.”
One final project to mention is Phase 3A-2 of the design/build I-95 Express Lanes project in Broward County, which Prince won in May 2015. Prince and its design partner, Parsons Brinckerhoff, submitted a plan to complete the work in 1,400 days with a final price of $153.9 million. The project includes converting the existing high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to managed lanes, as well as widening, which will result in two tolled express lanes in each direction.
Other project improvements include milling, resurfacing and overbuilding of the existing I-95 travel lanes and shoulders; roadway widening; guardrail; barrier wall; attenuators; shoulder gutters; drainage; more than a dozen bridge widenings; pedestrian bridge replacement; temporary and permanent retaining walls; sound barrier walls; sign structures; portable traffic monitoring sites; tolling gantries and associated infrastructure including toll equipment buildings; ITS; signing and pavement markings; managed lane markers; signalization; lighting; ramp signals for five interchanges from Cypress Creek Road to SW 10th Street; utility relocation; and landscaping.
“Winning that project speaks volumes about our company,” Jackson says. “After our acquisition, we now have the bonding capacity to go after those kinds of jobs, allowing us to build up a backlog and get more projects in places like Miami.”
In the years to come, Prince will continue to seek projects and growth. In recent times, the company has added to its head count and increased work in many parts of Florida. Prince plans to maintain that approach while also seeking opportunities to venture outside of Florida.
“We have worked out of state in past, and our plan is to expand out again,” Jackson says. “We’re bidding more work around and beyond the state, and we will continue on that path.”