I-10 bridge reopened in Pensacola

| 10/7/2004

Florida has reopened the Interstate 10 bridge over Escambia Bay east of Pensacola, FL, freeing truckers from having to take a 130-mile detour.

Roads and bridges were out throughout the Pensacola, FL, area and other nearby regions beginning Sept. 16, after Hurricane Ivan blasted through the area, according to reports from Florida and Alabama officials and media outlets.

Leading the list was the Escambia Bay bridge, which connects the east side of the city to the rest of the Florida Panhandle. Photos and video of the bridge break showed the remains of a tractor-trailer that was damaged when the bridge went out. A portion of the eastbound lanes – some reports placed it at a quarter mile of pavement – plunged into the bay, while the westbound lanes were damaged.

The I-10 crossing was reopened Tuesday, Oct. 5, the DOT announced.

“Today we reopen this vital link in the nation’s highway system,” Gov. Jeb Bush said in a statement. “Nearly 8,000 trucks a day travel on this roadway. Getting commerce moving again will help restore a sense of normalcy to the people in this impacted area.”

Gilbert Southern of Nebraska and Massman Construction of Missouri received a $26.4 million contract from Florida to fix the bridge just days after the storm passed. Workers drove 28 new piles to support the roadway.

“The loss of I-10 caused trucks to detour more than 130 miles out of their way,” FDOT Secretary José Abreu said. “Time is money. That’s why we offer bonus clauses in our contracts to get the job done as soon as possible.

“It looked like it could have taken months to reopen. But thanks to both FDOT staff and the contractor’s team working around the clock, these temporary repairs were complete in just 17 days.”

Now state officials and construction firms are moving on to Phase 2, in which workers will repair the eastbound bridge using the existing spans and Acrow panel bridges – prefabricated modular steel bridges. That repair is expected to be complete in 90 days.

However, all the work just finished and in Phase 2 is temporary. Florida DOT officials say because of the extensive damage caused by the hurricane, a new, permanent replacement bridge will have to be built across Escambia Bay.