At leave five spans of the recently built Pensacola Bay Bridge damaged by construction barges during Hurricane Sally on Sept. 15 will require complete reconstruction, according to a preliminary Florida Dept. of Transportation assessment. Repair plans for several other spans that sustained what the agency calls “varying degrees of damage” are still being determined, with no estimate as to how long the bridge will be out of service or when work will start.
Damage to the year-old, three-mile-long Pensacola Bay crossing occurred when Hurricane Sally’s storm-driven waves unmoored several construction barges being used by Skanska USA to construct a parallel bridge and demolish a decommissioned 60-year-old structure. One barge reportedly carrying a crane completely severed the existing bridge while impact from another vessel left an extensive gash in another section.
FDOT says a more specific estimate and impacts to the parallel bridge’s current construction schedule will be known once the full assessment and repair plan are determined. At that time, the agency said in a statement, “appropriate parties will be held responsible for the repairs.” The agency added that once damage assessments are complete, the structure will require shoring in order for crews to safely demolish irreparable areas.
Concurrently, FDOT will work to reconstruct spans in need of replacement, and complete other repairs necessary to re-open the bridge to traffic. Minor repairs that can be performed while the bridge is open will be addressed and prioritized accordingly.