TEscambia Bay Bridge

“We will shut down the bridge if maximum sustained winds reach 45 mph,” says FDOT spokesman Tommie Speights. The bridge could be closed sooner if inspection teams deem the bridge unsafe, he says. “We will have DOT people and law enforcement in place to immediately divert traffic as soon as it becomes unsafe.” Once the bridges are closed, all traffic will be diverted to U.S. 90.

The eastbound bridge has only one functional lane. In the event of a heavily eastward evacuation, a lane on the westbound bridge will be converted to alleviate eastbound congestion, says Speights.

The inspection teams will be provided by the bridge replacement joint venture of Tidewater Skanska, Virginia Beach, Va., and Flatiron Construction Corp., Longmont, Colo. Engineers from the venture are working with FDOT to manage traffic on the interstate. “I-10 is a hurricane evacuation route, so our top priority is to keep traffic moving as quickly and safely as possible,” says John Pohle, design-build manager for the project.

Construction has not commenced on the new bridges. “We were slated to begin operations this week but were curtailed by the hurricane,” says Pohle. Everything on the site is being secured in case Dennis hits, from materials to offices. Equipment will be moved to high ground and the project’s three barge-mounted cranes will be moved to a place of relative safety, says Pohle.

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he I-10 , wrecked last year by Hurricane Ivan, is now facing new danger from the approaching Hurricane Dennis. Florida Dept. of Transportation on July 8 was preparing to implement its contingency plan for the already badly-damaged traffic artery.