High water. New spans (below) will be heightened. (Photos courtesy of Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas. Inc.)

The Florida Dept. of Transportation April 20 awarded a design-build contract to a joint venture of Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, New York City; Tidewater Skanska, Virginia Beach, Va.; and Flatiron Construction, Longmont, Colo. Ardaman & Associates, Orlando, will provide geotechnical support. The team will begin drilling 60 test pilings for the $242-million Interstate 10 bridge replacement in June, says John Pohle, design-build manager for the project. Foundation construction is set to follow in August.

Design specifications will hopefully prevent a reoccurrence of the damage in which multiple bridge sections were washed off their pilings. Clearing the bridge-shore interface of the tidal zone is the other major design improvement, according to Pohle. The new bridges, each 3.1 miles long, will each be 100 ft longer on their eastern sides to prevent approaches from being washed away as they were during Ivan. The added length will allow storm surge to flow under the spans. The new precast segmental concrete bridge will have a minimum 65-ft clearance over the shipping channel.

New bridge piers will be significantly strengthened compared to the original 1968 design to minimize the danger of a substantial ship impact, says Pohle. FDOT will not release more detail on the piers, claiming homeland security concerns. The new spans will be wider than the originals, each expanded to three lanes plus 10-ft-wide shoulders. Spans will be 59 ft wide.

Bridge spans will be built in phases. The joint venture bid the total project for 862 days, with completion set for Aug. 30, 2007. The span carrying eastbound I-10 traffic is set to finish by Dec. 29, 2006, says Pohle. It will then carry four lanes of traffic, two in each direction, so both damaged spans can be demolished to make room for the new westbound span.

FDOT will award a lump-sum $10- million bonus for the eastbound span completion and transfer of traffic by Dec. 29. It will also award a $133,000 bonus for every day before Aug. 30, 2007 that the entire project is completed, up to $1 million. That will become a daily penalty if the deadline is missed.

econstruction will begin next month of the highway bridge in Florida’s Panhandle that was ravaged by a Hurricane Ivan-driven storm surge last September. This time, the twin spans over Escambia Bay will be built 25 ft high, more than twice the height of the bay’s 500-year wave level.