UPDATE: Oct. 5, 2020: An inspection and assessment of the damaged Pensacola Bay Bridge by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) found that required repairs could take as long as six months.
FDOT is still assessing the final number of the spans and piers that will need replacement. The contractor has already begun to fabricate replacement parts — to include 25 beams and piers already finished — needed to begin the repair work. In an Oct. 1 announcement, FDOT said this will help speed up installation following demolition of the damaged piers and beams.
Three of the barges that caused the initial damage remain under the bridge. Before other work can safely begin, FDOT said removing the barges without damaging the bridge any further is a top priority.
- The Florida Department of Transportation announced Monday that demolition on the Pensacola Bay Bridge has started as the agency begins its first steps toward repairing the damage caused by Skanska USA's Civil Southeast division barges, which broke loose during Hurricane Sally. A total of 22 barges broke free, causing damage to both public and private property.
- FDOT inspectors are still determining the extent of the damage but have so far completed their survey of the top of the bridge’s structure, piers and most of the underwater footings. The demolition will focus on clearing access to the 22 remaining piers that await inspection. Skanska is currently working to remove the three barges on or under the bridge.
- The FDOT said it hopes to have a final tally of the spans and piers that must be replaced, but, in the meantime, they are designing for permanent repairs. The bridge will remain closed until further notice and once the situation is fully assessed and damages are fully understood, "appropriate parties will be held responsible for the repairs," FDOT said.
As of Monday, the FDOT has inspected 202 underwater footings, 105 spans, 202 piers and 525 beams. So far, the agency’s assessment has revealed that:
- Five spans must be replaced in full.
- Two spans must be partially replaced.
- An as-of-yet unknown number of beams will have to be replaced.
Skanska has already fabricated 25 beams and the piers necessary to start repairs, according to the FDOT. The contractor is also building more replacement beams and piers at an offsite yard and has enlisted other facilities to help with production. The agency said it expects this "aggressive effort" will allow Skanska to start the installation of these items as soon as demolition is complete.
Skanska started construction of the new spans for the bridge, also known as Three Mile Bridge, in 2017. Before the barge damage shut it down, there were four lanes of traffic — two eastbound and two westbound — using one new span, completed in 2019. The plan is to switch westbound traffic to the second new span when it is complete in 2021.
Skanska said it is reaching out to property owners near the bridge affected by other barges that either landed on or damaged their property. The contractor told Construction Dive last week that "each barge is a unique recovery operation" and that it is working with experts to determine how to safely remove the errant barges.
The company has also provided an email address, [email protected], for those property owners who wish to file a damage claim.