FDOT contracts do not include an allowance for weather days, and that includes the roughly 900-day contract on the "Gandy Freeway" from I-275 to 4th Street in St. Petersburg.
Considering Florida's unpredictable weather patterns, a weather consideration seems necessary, but the Florida Department of Transportation's Kris Carson says that is exactly why contracts have not included weather days since the 1980s. It is impossible for a contractor to predict how many weather days his crew will need on a project.
10 News Meteorologist Bobby Deskins says the rainy season -- which is late spring, summer and early fall -- means more frequent rain, but the winter dry season often means storms that stick around longer. Even a short thunderstorm can have a big impact on construction if it brings a lot of rain.
Bobby says that flooding or pooling can occur on a job site that might require 12 to 24 hours to resolve, which means a crew might not be able to work on the day that the heavy rain occurs AND the following day.
FDOT engineers oversee the weather and don't require contractors to submit extension requests for weather days like they do for other unforeseen circumstances. Those extensions are granted day-to-day.
However, the date you are seeing on the sign on Gandy Boulevard approaching I-275 is not the actual completion date in the contract. FDOT adds 10 percent of contract days to the number they share with the public, to give a more reasonable idea of when a job will be done. In this case, that tacks on about 90 days.
FDOT contracts do not include a provision for weather days, so are the completion dates we are given really accurate?
It may be impossible to estimate exactly how many weather days a contractor will need to add, but the current US 19 project had 124 added between late November 2009 and this past June; that equates to about four months, which falls within that project's allotted 10 percent. The issues there came more from utilities.
So far, the Gandy project is progressing on schedule with limited impact to traffic. You can expect lane closures along Gandy between 4th and 9th Streets in the overnight hours only.
Click here to view the FDOT standards for construction contracts. Check back here frequently for updates on the "Gandy Freeway" project.