Florida’s Cape Coral has 431 miles of canals, more than any other city in the world, crammed into 120 square miles. That translates to a lot of bridges, most of which were built when the city was founded in 1957.

By necessity, the city’s maintenance division has become quite adept at developing low-cost and effective maintenance and repair methods, mostly by doing as much as possible in-house with specialized equipment.

The most recent example is the Overhold Canal bridge reconstruction completed earlier this year. Four badly damaged and degraded 61-foot-long, 66-inch-diameter steel storm pipes were replaced with 60-inch HDPE pipe, a new material for the division. Though the project required planning and construction work employees don’t normally do, they saved the city of 155,000 residents at least $38,000 by not farming out the job.

“We considered having an outside contractor reline or slipline these pipes, but believed this was a project that our staff was skilled enough to handle effectively,” says Division Manager Chris Camp ([email protected]).

The existing structure’s pavement, guardrails, and storm pipes had to be completely removed; the only elements salvaged were the concrete stem walls and guardrails. To accomplish this, crews installed dikes on either side and pumped out the water to expose the canal bed. They then placed and compacted in layers 1,500 cubic yards of fill dirt, and 200 tons of stone to Florida DOT standards. Finally, they laid new pavement to match the road’s pre-construction elevation.

Preparing and coordinating the logistics was the biggest challenge.

“We gathered survey data, called in utility locates, informed neighbors of detours, and procured this unique pipe diameter,” Camp says. “If the circumstances and scope of work are within our capabilities, we’ll continue to do more in-house work.”