Three major bridge projects in the Pensacola area are underway, including replacement of the 56-year-old span linking Pensacola to Gulf Breeze.
Construction began last September on two of the projects. Ian Satter at the Florida Department of Transportation says one involves the widening of, and improvements to, the Escambia Bay Bridge on Interstate-10.
“That will continue all the way to Avalon Blvd [in Milton], as part of our efforts to six-lane that portion of the interstate,” said Satter. “We’ll be doing some tweaks, but most of the work regarding that widening project will actually be away from the bridge and on the roadway.”
The price tag is just under $39 million, and includes work on the eastern side of the bridge near Scenic Highway.
Also underway is replacing the bridge over Bayou Texar on 12th Avenue, at a cost of $4.2 million. Satter says that project is divided into a couple of phases, building the bridge one half at a time.
“Phase one is the first half, and after the new structure is built, we’ll move traffic new structure and we’ll build the second structure,” said Satter. “Once it’s finished up in the fall you’ll have four lanes of traffic – two north and two south.”
The highest-profile bridge project is replacing the Pensacola Bay – or Three-Mile – Bridge which went into service in 1960. Satter says work is underway, behind the scenes.
“We have the different contractors that are vying to build this bridge,” said Satter. “Coming up with their plans, designs and proposals. They’ll deliver those to [FDOT] later this year, and in the summer we will select one of those contractors to design and build that bridge.”
Construction is scheduled to begin with groundbreaking either late this year, or in early 2017.
For now, the five design firms competing for the nearly 500 million dollar contract are being scored by a pair of committees – one on technical issues, the other on selection. In some areas the blueprints differ, but Satter says there are some features for the new bridge that are required in all five 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”
The new span will sit on a new location near the current Three Mile Bridge.
Once a final design and contractor are selected sometime this July, F-DOT will hold a public information meeting to allow residents to weigh in on the project. More information can be found at www.pensacolabaybridge.com.