The Florida Department of Transportation has announced that the traffic shift to the new Pensacola Bay Bridge has been pushed back one week.
Now the first shift will take place on Sunday, August 4. That evening eastbound traffic, from Pensacola to Gulf Breeze, will be shifted to the new bridge. Later that week, on Thursday, August 8, westbound traffic from Gulf Breeze to Pensacola will start flowing on the new span.
"You'll see minor changes at the foot of each bridge," said Ian Satter, of the Florida Department of Transportation. "We understand it probably takes a week or so for people to get used to it. So we will advise extra caution during that time as you're driving through this area. You (also have to remember) that we have a lot of visitors coming through this area that are navigating (the new bridge approaches) as well. The main thing is please be patient, please be safe and please be aware of changing conditions."
The DOT says during that Sunday through Thursday period 17th Avenue will be closed to traffic between Gregory Street and the Graffiti Bridge. Vehicles will be detoured using Ninth Avenue and Cervantes Street, however access to the visitor’s center, boat ramp, and the Pensacola Bay Fishing Pier will be maintained.
After the transition, the new bridge will have a temporary configuration while the second span is being built. "We will have two lanes of traffic in each direction. We will have a center lane which is dedicated for emergency responders to use or for people if they break down," said Satter.
As traffic is flowing on the new bridge, work will continue on the multi-use path that will run along the right side of the bridge so drivers will still need to watch out for workers. The path will be open for pedestrians and bicyclists in the fall.
Meanwhile, demolition of the old Pensacola Bay Bridge will begin soon after traffic moves to the new span.
"The old bridge as we know it will cease to exist" said Satter. "Many portions (of the old bridge) will be used as artificial reefs so that's going to be repurposed. So that's a great feature (of) this project. But this older structure will be gone because it sits in the footprint of the new, westbound structure."
And Satter reminds us that all timelines on the project are dependent on the weather, but if there are no more delays, you can take your first trip over the new Pensacola Bay Bridge on Sunday, Aug. 4.