- Construction on the $398 million Pensacola Bay Bridge, Northwest Florida's largest transportation project ever, is underway, according to Equipment World.
- When complete, the bridge's two spans will include three 12-foot travel lanes, two 10-foot shoulders and a 10-foot multiuse path that will serve both pedestrians and bicyclists
- The first span is scheduled to open in 2019, after which the old bridge will be demolished. Project officials said the second span will open in 2020.
The Florida Department of Transportation awarded Skanska USA Civil the contract for the Bay Bridge last year. At the time, the FDOT said Skanska had the lowest design scores out of all the contractors bidding the job but that its proposal price, which was $69 million less than the next-lowest bidder, was a deciding factor in giving the company the job.
The current bridge was built in 1960, and the state has categorized it as "structurally deficient," although it continues to accommodate approximately 55,000 motorists who travel between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, FL, every day, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association's latest report counts 56,000 structurally deficient bridges in the U.S., with 1,900 of those part of interstate systems. California bridges occupy the top 14 spots on ARTBA's list of the most traveled deficient bridges in the country, but Iowa, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma are the states with the largest number of deficient bridges.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, approximately 50% of California roads are in poor condition, and the state has a $130 billion backlog of infrastructure repairs. This prompted California lawmakers to pass a $52 billion spending initiative earlier this year to repair state highways, bridges and other public assets. The program will be partially funded by a 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase, as well as additional motorist fees.
Construction on the Pensacola Bay Bridge is expected to generate at least 500 temporary jobs, but state officials said the project could also create 4,200 permanent local jobs and 600 additional ones throughout the state.