Work will begin Friday on construction of a temporary work trestle on the Gulf Breeze side of the Pensacola Bay Bridge, officials from the Florida Department of Transportation announced.
The trestle will be used for material deliveries and to position equipment needed to construct the new bridge. The work will take place off the roadway with no expected impact on traffic, though nearby properties may experience noise as piles for the mooring system and trestle are installed.
The $400 million replacement of the 57-year-old bridge is the largest public infrastructure project in Northwest Florida history. Some 55,000 cars travel between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze over the bridge each day.
Preliminary construction work began last month at a staging site on the banks of Bayou Chico, where crews will manufacture the hundreds of pilings and beams needed to assemble the bridge. Work is being overseen by contractor Skanska USA, chosen last year over several other national and international firms to design and build the bridge. Construction on the massive project is expected to last through 2020.
“Skanska has a concrete casting facility that is under development at Bayou Chico,” FDOT spokesman Ian Satter said last month. “All pilings — test and production — will be fabricated there, along with the needed I-Beams for the spans of the bridge, the pi-girders that will be used for the shared-use path, and the so-called “trophy pieces” consisting of the footings, columns, and caps for the low level piers and upper portions of the high level piers.”
The project is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs, including more than 200 at the casting plant and hundreds more at the actual construction site. Skanska partnered with CareerSource Escarosa to host an informational meeting for jobseekers earlier this month.
The existing bridge will remain fully open to traffic until the first span of the new bridge is completed in early 2019. Once traffic from the old bridge is moved to the new span, construction crews will demolish the existing bridge and compete construction of the second span. According to Skanska’s contract, the company stands to earn a $15 million bonus if all traffic from the old bridge is placed on the first completed span by January 2019.
When completed, each of the two new spans will be configured for three travel lanes, complete with inside and outside shoulders and a multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists.