Florida to replace portions of Pensacola bridge after barge strikes

3 Full Span Replacement
3 Full Span Replacement
FDOT photo

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — The Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) statewide team of bridge experts continues to inspect and assess the Pensacola Bay Bridge, including the substructure that is located underwater. These efforts are being done as quickly, but thoroughly, as possible and the exact timeline for completion of repairs remains unknown at this time.

Three contractor’s barges that broke free during Hurricane Sally remain on or under the structure, and the removal of those barges will have to be done with great caution. The contractor has prioritized the removal of the barges and will work closely with FDOT to ensure the least amount of additional damage possible to the bridge in this effort.

While the damage assessment is continuing on the bridge, FDOT has the directed the bridge designer to begin the design for the permanent repairs and re-establishment of four lanes of traffic. Durability, and ensuring there is absolutely no reduction in the bridge’s strength as a result of the repairs, remains paramount in the design plans.

Currently, the final total number of the spans or piers that will ultimately need to be replaced is unknown, but FDOT is aware the contractor has some existing inventory that will reduce how many new parts will need to be used for the repairs. In addition, FDOT has directed the contractor to begin constructing more replacement beams and piers at its offsite yard.

Demolition of the damaged areas of the bridge will begin over the next few days, and just as FDOT did with the inspection and assessment efforts, the contractor is bringing in additional resources to expedite demolition. FDOT expects the demolition progress to increase once the barges are removed and the additional resources arrive.

Further preliminary inspection findings include:

• At least four bridge piers have rotated as a result of barge impact, causing beam bearings to shift. Beam bearings that shift too much can result in an uneven level of stress on the span, potentially requiring additional repair work.
• At least one pier has suffered cracked pilings, which is the portion that extends underwater into the ground. FDOT continues to assess all piers to identify if any others have suffered cracks and will then determine a repair plan.
• No damage to arch section of the bridge deck has been detected at this time.
• The number of spans requiring full replacement remains at five and FDOT has identified an additional two that will require partial replacement.
• FDOT will have to replace a number of beams and is still determining the specific number needing replacement.

The bridge closure is still anticipated to be for an extended period of time. A more specific estimate and impacts to the current construction schedule will be known once the full assessment and repair plan are determined. Once the situation is fully assessed, and damages are fully understood, appropriate parties will be held responsible for the repairs.

Motorists should continue to use all available detour routes, which include the Garcon Point Bridge and State Road 87. At this time, tolls on the Garcon Point Bridge have been suspended through 6 a.m., October 23.

Details on the detour routes, including graphics, FAQs, and regular updates can be found online at fdot.gov/PensacolaBay. Members of the public wishing to receive these updates can choose to subscribe by providing their email address on this website as well.

FDOT understands the contractor has dispatched a community outreach team and insurance claim specialists to assist impacted property owners. The contractor has asked property owners impacted by Skanska’s barges or other equipment during Hurricane Sally to contact them at pensacola@skanska.com.

– Florida Department of Transportation


(PENSACOLA, Fla. ) — Skanska, the company in charge of building the Pensacola Bay Bridge, confirmed Wednesday that 22 barges were washed away from the bridge construction site during Hurricane Sally, WKRG News 5 reported.

Skanska said 12 of the construction barges were washed onto private property. At least one of the barges is responsible for knocking out sections of the Pensacola Bay Bridge, also known as the Three Mile Bridge.

Skanska told WKRG News 5 it did all it could to secure the barges before the storm hit, and it was unfortunate the barges caused so much damage.

It released this statement regarding the runaway barges:

“Skanska remains dedicated to the safe and prompt retrieval of our construction barges. At this time, Skanska believes it has made contact with a majority of the property owners who either have barges resting on their properties or have received damage associated with barges coming ashore. We are encouraging anyone who believes their property was damaged by Skanska’s barges or other equipment during Hurricane Sally that the company has not yet reached to please contact us at pensacola@skanska.com. Skanska has dispatched a community outreach team who will be guiding property owners throughout the barge retrieval and insurance process. We recognize this is a major event that has our full attention, and we are putting the full resources of the company to forward to address it as quickly and safely as possible.”

By Professional Mariner Staff