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FDOT: Work Continues On Bay Bridge's Sally Damage

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Repairs continue on the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sally on the new Three Mile Bridge. And some efforts are shifting back to construction and completion.

The latest update – issued Thursday by the Florida Department of Transportation – is that contractors are installing and repairing the final storm-related items on the span. The work, says Ian Satter at FDOT, is progressing “pretty well.”

“We have all the piles driven that are needed to restore traffic onto the bridge,” said Satter. “Right now we’re looking at adding a few more trophy pieces that need to be installed; and now the main work will be setting beams and putting the decks in place. That’s going to involve some manpower up there and a lot of cranes lifting some heavy beams that are laid down for concrete.”

The concrete is poured in the forms and a machine levels and smooths the surface, to ensure that the top of the slab is at the correct elevation or grade. Meanwhile, the department is sticking to its projection to finish the storm-related damages and reopen some lanes of the week of May 31.

“I think when you look at the data and the amount of things that have been done up there, we’re in a really good track; but again, we’re constantly pushing the contractor,” said Satter. “We’re not resting on any sort of projection on what things are early or late; we’re just constantly working to push the contractor to move forward.”

That contractor -- Skanska USA – meets with state transportation officials numerous times per day, says Satter, who says the focus is on the multitasking going on at the site.

“Talking about the progress, not only on the repairs, but also the other construction work that’s being done on the bridge,” Satter said. “Keeping them on track for the full opening of the entire bridge [and] multiple facets of things going on. Right now, our concentration is getting that bridge open and making sure of those repair efforts. And that’s the number-1 effort for the contractor.”

Motorists are urged to continue using all available detours, such as the Garcon Point Bridge – where tolls are suspended through Sunday, May 9. State Road 87, and ECAT’s free bus route between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze are other alternatives.

Once the emergency repairs are complete, Satter says the focus will return on the total completion of the span.

“We’re looking to have the final completion of the Pensacola Bay Bridge – both structures – in January of 2022; of course, that is weather permitting,” said Satter. “Driving piles, putting down trophy pieces, putting down beams, installing decks – everything people saw from the first span will mirror that going on with the second span.”

The completion goal of next January means the project will be active through all of the 2021 hurricane season that kicks off June 1. But FDOT’s Ian Satter says lessons learned from Sally will be available if needed.

“With any storm we’ve had throughout the year, we’ve talked to not only our team, but our contractors in securing their equipment and making sure that we are ready to go right after a storm as well,” said Satter.

Much of the Sally damage to the bridge was from Skanska’s construction barges breaking loose from their moorings and ramming it. Other runaway barges caused damage to private properties, and a number of lawsuits are being prepared for those.

“At the Florida Department of Transportation we monitor storms very closely and are ready to go and react to not only after the storm but before the storm,” Satter said. “We’re getting things prepared and we’re working with all of the people that work with us to do that. So, just like any hurricane season we’re going to be very aware of what’s happening, reaching out to all of our contactors at all of our projects throughout Northwest Florida.”

Details on detour routes can be found online at www.fdot.gov/PensacolaBay. Additional real-time updates on the Pensacola Bay Bridge are available on Twitter and Facebook.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.