Repairs continue on the new Three Mile Bridge over Pensacola Bay, which was damaged in Hurricane Sally by the storm itself, and by barges that broke loose and slammed into it.
The work is underway on the span, with one milestone reached last Wednesday, according to Ian Satter at the Florida Department of Transportation.
“Our contractor was able to do a first pour for one of the bridge decks for the repairs of the Pensacola Bay Bridge,” said Satter. “That is a big step for us in that area. So we’ve got eight full spans to replace [and] 14 partial spans that we’re going to have to work on.”
Besides the concrete, multiple teams are on the job, doing numerous other parts of the project, such as demolishing spans that need replacing, and removing debris from the bottom of the bay.
“We also have things going on offsite,” Satter said. “We’re having piles, piers, beams, trophy pieces — those are all concrete pieces that are needed for the bridge structure. Those are being done offsite at our pre-cast yard, and they’re driving piles and setting beams for those bridges as well.”
Skanska USA remains the prime contractor for the bridge project, and Satter says the firm is active in heading up the repairs.
“They have brought in two other bridge-building contractors to assist them with the repairs,” said Satter. “With the amount of work needed and the time frame that is needed to get the bridge open, it was imperative that we have multiple crews up there with expertise to be able to get this repair job done as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, the tolls on the Garcon Point Bridge — the primary detour route — remain suspended through Thursday, Feb. 11. Satter says FDOT has also made some modifications as travelers approach Interstate 10 near Pace and Milton.
“We’ve widened the exit lanes as you’re coming off I-10 to access Avalon Blvd.; so those are getting traffic off the interstate much more quickly, safely and efficiently,” said Satter. “We’ve also widened about 2,000-feet northbound-southbound Avalon Boulevard, just south of I-10. So we’re trying to get that traffic moving as quickly as we can off the interstate to reduce that commute time.”
State road 87 is also a viable detour. And residents can ride Escambia County Area Transit’s (ECAT) temporary bus route between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze free of charge. For now, all signs point to completion of repairs by the end of March.
“We’re tracking really well on a lot of our different things we’re doing out there from demolition to repairs, inspections; all the other things we’re doing out there in the productions of the pieces that we need,” Satter said. “Unless anything would make us stumble as far as a major weather event, but right now things are tracking very well for us to have that bridge open in March.”
And as the completion of work begins to be seen on the horizon, FDOT’s Ian Satter asks residents to stay patient.
“The stead work that we’re doing out there and the progress that we’re making, we’re sharing that with the public so they can see what’s happening out there,” said Satter. “And hopefully in a few months when we get ready to open that bridge up, people can get back up on the Pensacola Bay Bridge. While the repairs are going on, you’re also having construction work going on for the second structure.”
You can keep tabs on the work on the bridge online, at www.fdot.gov/Pensacolabay