A critical part of planned major expansion at Tampa International Airport is the reconstruction of the Taxiway J Bridge. The rationale behind the reconstruction was twofold: the bridge, which crosses the John Bean Parkway public access road into the airport, was deemed inadequate to support newer, larger, and heavier aircraft, and the length of road span was insufficient to allow construction of a future automated people mover along the parkway.

An aerial view of Taxiway J at Tampa International Airport.

The project

The project included phased removal of the existing bridge superstructure and construction of a new, approximately 300 ft-long and 214 ft-wide bridge at the same location.  The new bridge is supported by two abutments and three intermediate piers built on 42-inch and 48-inch diameter drilled shaft foundations installed by Keller.

The challenge

Primary challenges included limited height restrictions for the drill and crane required for the foundation work, the need for Keller to dovetail its operations with superstructure demolition and reconstruction phases, and the sand and porous limestone subsurface conditions with a high groundwater table.

The solution

Key to the overall success of the project was the close cooperation of the general contractor, which created a 35-ft wide by 300-ft long work area cut down 5-6 ft below grade for each phase of the work to cater to crane height restrictions. Keller also modified its crane boom to ensure adequate clearance. A continuous French drain controlled the otherwise high water table.

Prior to production work, two method tests were conducted, one for each shaft diameter, to verify the installation process. One shaft was then utilized as a production shaft for a project total of 132 shafts. At each shaft location, temporary casing was advanced to design depth under natural slurry and seated approximately 2 ft into the limestone before rock sockets were drilled. Following cleaning of each shaft, a full length reinforcing cage was installed and 5000 psi concrete tremie-poured to complete the installation. Required cross-hole sonic logging (CSL) testing was completed ahead of schedule.

Project facts


Hillsborough County Aviation Authority

Keller business unit(s)


Main contractor(s)

Johnson Brothers