Pensacola Bay Bridge reopening moved to end of May
March 30, 2021
After discovering additional repairs just before the scheduled reopening in March, the Florida Department of Transportation has moved the reopening of the Pensacola Bay Bridge to the end of May.
On March 29, FDOT updated its plans for opening the Pensacola Bay Bridge after remaining mostly silent upon finding more repairs delaying plans. A phased reopening plan was to begin in March. That did not happen when more damage was found. Since then, FDOT made no indication of what would happen next.
According to a news release, the Pensacola Bay Bridge will begin reopening plans on the week of May 31.
The delay is the result of further repairs needed to a certain pier on the bridge. Specifically, the “trophy” piece of the pier needs complete replacement. “Trophy” pieces are a single concrete entity consisting of the footer, column and cap, somewhat resembling a trophy. That requires demolition, pile driving, trophy installation, beam placement, and deck pouring. FDOT anticipates a completion date of January 2022 for all bridge improvements.
“The full replacement of the trophy piece will uphold FDOT’s commitment to provide the safe and efficient reconnection of Gulf Breeze and Pensacola communities and deliver a bridge with a75-year design life,” FDOT said in a statement. “Multiple crews are working around the clock to complete repair projects critical to the opening of the Pensacola Bay Bridge.”
Motorists are still advised to use the detour routes at the Garcon Point Bridge and State Road 87. Suspension of tolls on the Garcon Point Bridge have been extended through April 9.
When the bridge does reopen, phase one will include opening two lanes of traffic – one lane in each direction – for the first 4,000 feet on the Pensacola side. From there, the remaining 2 miles of the Pensacola Bay Bridge will open up to four lanes of traffic, two in each direction. Speed limits will be set temporarily to 35 mph. Emergency refuge areas will also be available. Phase two consists of opening the remaining 4,000 feet to four lanes of traffic.
The bridge shut down last year after suffering severe damage from a hurricane. Hurricane Sally made landfall as a Category 2 storm in September. A runaway barge struck the Pensacola Bay Bridge, forcing the closure. Since then, crews experienced several setbacks over the course of the past several months. In October, crews had to stop operations twice as hurricanes Delta and Zeta moved in.
More information about repairs to the Pensacola Bridge can be found at FDOT.gov/PensacolaBay. LL