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Dale Salamacha

Signshop Races Against the Clock to Complete a Costly Project

The penalty for missing the deadline? $4,000 per day in liquidated damages.




Media 1 fabricated arched cladding of aluminum sheeting, then bolted it to the “spikes” extending from the monotube body. Media 1 fabricated arched cladding of aluminum sheeting, then bolted it to the “spikes” extending from the monotube body.

THE OTHER WEEKEND was my 14th wedding anniversary, and to commemorate, Christy and I typically spend a long weekend at the beach in a badass hotel, spending way too much money on room service … but not this year.

This year we are under considerable business duress, trying to finalize our lengthy SunTrax project for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). If you have read the last few columns, you know we signed this project two years ago, and though it’s a total of only three signs, all are as formidable as Christy’s original resistance to my charms.

This month, we’re talking about the crown jewel of the entire project — the Portal Sign — a massive steel and aluminum archway, 30 ft. tall and stretching an incredible 90 ft. across the entry road into SunTrax, a 471-acre wonderland of autonomous test track for self-driving vehicles. FDOT will soon open this complex to automotive companies to test their vehicles for real-world use.

We’ve already completed a 12 x 25-ft. arched Entry Sign, featuring 22-in.-deep channel letters, with illuminated 3M Panaflex faces behind them, and six massive accent “fins.” That was followed by an iconic 31-ft.-tall, 8,000-lb. X-sculpture, as a focal point of the property’s traffic rotunda.

But this one is completely insane. The footers took 20 yards of concrete, in addition to eight, 16-in.-diameter concrete pilings driven 35 ft. deep into the Florida soil, providing the needed reinforcement to withstand hurricanes. Here are the main issues:

We closed the job in June 2020. But now that we are actually building it, steel and aluminum prices have gone up 240%, and our material costs have made this a financial loser. Will FDOT compensate us for the additional costs due to the pandemic and current supply chain issues? Possibly. But they won’t address it until the project is fully complete.

Since closing on the SunTrax job about two years ago, steel and aluminum prices have gone up 240%.

Since closing on the SunTrax job about two years ago, steel and aluminum prices have gone up 240%.

Now let’s add a little twist … The deadline: five weeks.

Yep, five weeks to build a project that would typically take us two to three months to complete … and if we don’t make it? $4,000 per day liquidated damages kick in.

Let’s dissect this a bit. After the massive footers were complete, another company, Arcosa (HQ’d in Dallas), fabricated and installed a crazy 36-in. round “monotube” that tips the scales at 38,000 lbs. and stretches across the roadway, connecting to 36 bolts, 80 lbs. each, that we embedded into the rebar-reinforced concrete.

Once the monotube was installed, we began fabrication on 42-in.-wide x 42-in.-deep x 42-in.-tall, arched aluminum “cladding” of .125 aluminum sheeting, which we would bolt top, bottom and sides to multiple “spikes” growing out of the monotube body. After that is complete, 8-in.-deep x nearly 7-ft.-tall illuminated channel letters that read “SunTrax” will adorn the apex of the arch …. but the real showstoppers are 12 “fins” on both sides of the arch. The fins range from small (12 ft. tall), to medium (18 ft. tall), to large (24 ft. tall), and there are four of each size that sandwich the cladding, creating a symmetrical entryway of epic proportions.

A total of 5,000 sq. ft. of aluminum will be used, along with approximately 1,400 ft. of 4 x 4 x .25-in. aluminum angle, all primed and painted in the chosen colors.

Do we make it? Do you wanna follow along? Watch the install episode here — and if you like what you see, subscribe to the Media 1 Wrap This YouTube channel!


Dale Salamacha is the co-owner of Media 1/Wrap This (Sanford, FL). Contact Dale at



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