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Groundbreaking Closer For New Pensacola Bay Bridge

Skanska USA

  New York-based Skanska USA is a step closer to getting the contract to replace the current Pensacola Bay, also called Three Mile Bridge, that opened in 1960. 

Tentative approval was given Monday in Milton by a three-member committee of Florida Department of Transportation officials. At just under $399 million, Skanska bested four other firms. FDOT spokesman Ian Satter says it’s now on to the next step.

“That allows us to negotiate and work with the Skanska team to finalize the requirements and agreement for the project,” says Satter. “Then our next step is to award the contract to [Atlanta-based] Skanska Civil USA Southeast, and we’ll go from there with design and construction.”

At $69 million more than Skanska, Johnson Brothers Corporation placed second. They and the other three bidders had a 72-hour window to protest the decision. That window closed at noon Central Time on Thursday, with no protests filed. Historically, the number of such protests varies, depending on the project.

“We have this system in place so that our contractors have a fair opportunity to look at the information,” Satter said. “We have had projects where protests that have come in, and we’ve been able to resolve those.”

The five design firms were scored by a pair of committees: one on technical issues, the other on selection. 

Designs for the new Pensacola Bay Bridge were made public on Wednesday, two days before the original date that had been set up to avoid any possible litigation. Satter says the Skanska depiction of the 3.7 mile span contains features which were required for all proposals. 

“It will be a six-lane facility,” Satter said. “Plans call for a ten-foot multi-use path to bike and jog there as well. There will be wider shoulders, so if somebody’s car breaks down, they’ll be able to pull over. You won’t have those traffic delays”

Skanska will use a method called “design-build,” in which a single team of contractors and engineers will oversee the project. That differs from “design-bid-build,” where engineers complete the design, and then firms are invited to submit bids. 

“We have the initial design, and we’ll be getting some public involvement regarding the aesthetics and other features of the bridge,” says Satter. “And then moving forward wit the actual construction, hoping to break ground either late 2016 or early 2017.”

Skanska is not a stranger to FDOT, or to northwest Florida. They are currently working on the Choctawhatchee Bay Bridge in Walton County, and I-10 Bridges over Escambia Bay, which replaced the spans destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. More information on the Bay Bridge project can be found at www.pensacolabaybridge.com.