UPDATE: Sept. 24: Skanska confirmed to Construction Dive that a total of 22 barges out of 55 broke loose from their moorings around the Pensacola Bay Bridge project in Florida during Hurricane Sally last week. Twelve of those barges reportedly washed up on private property, damaging some seawalls and docks, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
Skanska officials told the News Journal that the company had made contact with at least 10 families who had barges in their yards and was going to properties to make contact in person for those it hadn't reached yet. The contractor said determining how the damage will be paid for will be worked out with its insurance company.
In a previous statement to the News Journal, the company said it did everything it could to prepare for the storm, which hit parts of Florida and Alabama last week, bringing 2 feet of rain and causing at least $29 million of damage in Florida's Escambia County and Pensacola alone.
"Skanska made all appropriate preparations for the storm based on the information we had available at the time," the company said in a written statement to Construction Dive. "The sudden shift in the intensity, direction, and duration of the storm was unprecedented and entirely unexpected by the entire Pensacola community. Unfortunately, it was neither safe nor feasible to attempt the removal of barges and other equipment in the brief period between the storm’s sudden intensification and its ultimate landfall."
- Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) inspectors are still assessing the damage caused to the Pensacola Bay Bridge in Pensacola, Florida, after barges used in the construction of the $430 million project broke free from their moorings during Hurricane Sally and slammed into it. Skanska USA's Civil Southeast division is leading construction of the structure, also known as Three Mile Bridge.
- FDOT experts are assessing the entire bridge, including the underwater substructure, and have thus far determined that five of the bridge's 105 spans are damaged beyond repair and will have to be replaced. The FDOT is still assessing the extent of damage and formulating a plan for necessary repairs to other areas of the bridge.
- After its examination is complete, the FDOT will shore up the bridge so that demolition of the five spans can begin. The bridge will remain closed to traffic “for an extended period of time" while reconstruction and major repairs are carried out. Minor repairs are planned for after the bridge is reopened to traffic.
Skanska started construction of the nearly 3-mile-long bridge in 2017, and the eventual eastbound span opened in 2019. Until the new, permanent westbound span opens in 2021, both westbound and eastbound traffic have been using the now-damaged completed span.
While Skanska did not share with Construction Dive exactly how many barges broke loose during last week's hurricane, one barge with a crane atop it reportedly did major damage to the Pensacola Bay Bridge, while others washed up in various other locations, including against another bridge that is being used as an alternate route while the Pensacola Bay Bridge is closed. Other barges have also washed up on private property.
Skanska sent Construction Dive the following statement, saying that it is focusing its efforts on the recovery:
"Skanska remains dedicated to the ongoing restoration of the Three Mile Bridge and the recovery of the community at large — including the safe and prompt retrieval of our construction barges. Skanska is in contact with those who have had our barges run ashore on their property. We have dispatched a community outreach team and insurance claims specialists who will be meeting personally with each homeowner in the coming days and will guide them throughout the barge retrieval and insurance process.
"Each barge is a unique recovery operation. We are working with engineers and marine recovery experts to determine how to safely remove each barge while minimizing further disruption to both the homeowner and their neighbors."