Pensacola Bay Bridge Barge Damage Worse Than First Thought

September 23, 2020

Barge damage to the Pensacola Bay Bridge during Hurricane Sally is worse that first thought, and there is no timetable yet for the repair.

“The department understands how critical this facility is to the community and is also working to develop the repair plan necessary to restore the bridge back to a condition that will last for decades to come. These efforts are being done as quickly, but thoroughly, as possible and the exact timeline for completion of repairs remains unknown at this time,” the Florida Department of Transportation said in a news release Tuesday.

A preliminary inspection found:

  • About 30 spans were impacted from total collapse to minor damage.
  • At least four bridge piers have rotated as a result of barge impact. That can result in an uneven level of stress on the span, potentially requiring additional repair work.
  • At least one pier has suffered cracked pilings, which is the portion that extends underwater into the ground. FDOT continues to assess all piers to identify if any others
  • have suffered cracks and will then determine a repair plan.
  • No damage to arch section of the bridge deck has been detected at this time.

While FDOT’s inspection work can continue at other areas of the bridge, removing the contractor’s barges from the bridge is necessary for FDOT to complete its full inspection. FDOT is working with the contractor and has requested that the contractor provide a timeline for the removal of the barges.

FDOT has an increased amount of crew members out inspecting the bridge due to the circumstances, but the conditions (wind and water clarity) are not favorable. For reference, a full inspection of this bridge under normal and favorable conditions can take up to three weeks.

As inspection efforts continue, FDOT will concurrently work to reconstruct the spans that need to be replaced and complete repairs that must be done before re-opening the bridge to traffic. Minor repairs that can be done while the bridge is open will be addressed and prioritized accordingly.

The bridge closure is still anticipated to be for an extended period of time. A more specific estimate and impacts to the current construction schedule will be known once the full assessment and repair plan are determined. Once the situation is fully assessed, and damages are fully understood, appropriate parties will be held responsible for the repairs.

Motorists should continue to use all available detour routes, which include the Garcon Point Bridge and State Road 87. FDOT has suspended the tolls on the Garcon Point bridge for another 30 days due to the bridge damage. The toll suspension will continue until 6 a.m. Friday, October 23.

Photo for, click to enlarge.


36 Responses to “Pensacola Bay Bridge Barge Damage Worse Than First Thought”

  1. Merlin on September 28th, 2020 10:51 am

    It is a tragedy that this happened! I work for a construction company . We always as soon a a storm hits the gulf start preparing. That consist of moving barges inland and securing the barges with cables and ropes. Barges without spuds are surrounded by barge with spuds. It looks like a floating island when done. Really the money that would have been spent on the preparation would have been much cheaper than what this is going to cost. Poor planning on the company’s part!

  2. ktk on September 25th, 2020 4:10 pm

    I am an active Florida Professional Engineer since 1989, working as a private-sector design consultant to the FDOT.
    I previously served the FDOT as Design Project Manager on two major bascule bridge replacements (crossing the Intracoastal Waterway), including construction-phase services as the Owner’s (FDOT) representative.
    Any project like the Pensacola Bay Bridge has regular weekly construction meetings between the contractor, the FDOT, their representatives, and local stakeholders.
    And during Hurricane Season, the agenda for every meeting includes a “Tropical Update”.
    The entire Pensacola Bay Bridge team knew the storm was coming (and slowly), and the entire team is to blame.
    But especially the FDOT.
    It is almost every year now that the FDOT experiences some kind of structural disaster.
    And each time, the FDOT purports to implement new and improved procedure(s), such that “a disaster like this never happens again”.
    Unfortunately for our citizens and taxpayers, the FDOT never learns from its own costly mistakes.

  3. Dluns Megus on September 25th, 2020 5:17 am

    Will — poster baby for Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    (But he’s right at least about the poor quality of the surface of the bridge. I can judge that — I drove across it. I’m no more qualified than Will is to judge anything else, not being a civil engineer with bridge building experience.)

  4. ken f on September 25th, 2020 4:06 am

    didn’t like this bridge the first time i drove across it coming northbound into pensacola. the angle of the bridge in places was scary. poor workmanship from the start. skanska needs to be held responsible and pay for damages, not the taxpayers.

  5. Facetious Democrat on September 24th, 2020 11:46 pm

    Nobody better tell me to get a generator or to prune or remove the trees around my house. The Democrats will take care of me, or, at least they said they would.

  6. Fluffy B. Oregon on September 24th, 2020 2:22 pm

    Florida is not naive to Hurricanes. 90 mph is nothing. Why was this barge not towed into a safe harbor before the storm hit? It was a slow mover. FDOT had lots of time to get their act together for them to get with the contractors to move the barge. The contractors should be held liable for the damage & replacement at their cost, not the cost of Floridians. They should be forced into paying Pensacola residents for their loss & any costs to ferry services and toll fees waived until fully replaced.

  7. Liltweettweet on September 24th, 2020 2:07 pm


  8. MR REALITY on September 24th, 2020 11:37 am

    what kind of a clown is trying to blame this on TRUMP!!!!?

  9. MR REALITY on September 24th, 2020 11:36 am

    so now most of you are road builders…>JEEEEEMOOONETTTTTYYYYYYY..>The road has to have SLOPE on it so the WATER CAN RUN OFF SO OUR DRIVERS WONT HYDROPLANE…The NEW gridge was AWESOME! It carries cars FOLKS not giant barges from underneath SLAMMING INTO IT. o mean the ignorance after this storm SAD!!!!!

  10. DDD on September 24th, 2020 9:31 am

    Will…Really? Now the bridge construction is President Trump’s fault? And you found yourself fit to lecture imbecile? Obama was an abysmal failure. I will ensure I vote to negate your biden vote.

  11. Dean on September 24th, 2020 6:55 am

    Like another commenter l drove across this bridge when they first opened it and was really surprised at how uneven and warped it seemed. The ride was totally uncomfortable. And it was slanted I guess for drainage but I never drove across a bridge sloped like that so it makes me question whether that was by design or error. There was already something very wrong with this bridge but apparently nobody has wanted to talk about it!

  12. Joe on September 23rd, 2020 10:40 pm

    Those 5 dollar tolls to take the Garcon Point bridge will rack up on motorists quick just trying to get home to Gulf Breeze. I hope there will be some relief for all these people!!

  13. Rodney on September 23rd, 2020 8:25 pm

    Is it necessary to “imbecile”? You are going to file a class action lawsuit against SKANSKA? Get in line because a short time spent doing research would reveal they have many against them. Now who fits the description of the adjective you chose?

  14. Will on September 23rd, 2020 7:36 pm

    Another thing I can’t stop thinking about and wonder if any of this has played a role…. Driving across the new bridge for months now I couldn’t help but notice how shabbily it has been constructed. It is warped and uneven throughout. At first I thought it just may have been due to being rushed to get their bonuses for completion times, but more recently I have been contemplating a far worse scenario. One of the last acts of President Obama was to get this new bridge for the city of Pensacola. Yet it wasn’t contracted until the freakshow came into office. Since he is only capable of destruction, and lives to erase anything positive that that Obama has done for this country, I wonder if this bridge is even safe for us to drive across at all. The likelihood that the cheapest, crappiest contractors were employed in order to skim money off the contract is disturbingly high. I also wouldn’t put it past this administration to intentionally put an unsafe bridge here in Obama’s name hoping for a calamity to blame him for. Perhaps an inspection of the structural integrity of the entire bridge needs to be performed.

  15. Will on September 23rd, 2020 7:17 pm

    I’m going to make this simple for all of you arm-chair quarterbacks. Skanska’s negligence caused this. Everyone in my neighborhood put their lawn furniture inside so it wouldn’t fly through the windows. Everyone except this company. I live in GB proper and plan to seek a class action lawsuit to compensate the residents here. And to the imbecile that said the old bridge didn’t get hit before… you are dead wrong. In ‘89 we had to drive around for months.

  16. Len Sugin, PE (ret. FL), F.ASCE on September 23rd, 2020 6:23 pm

    1. FDOT needs to establish liability ASAP (Contractor, Act of God, FDOT, other)
    2. Inspection must be by outside independent professional as the issues of liability and cost will end up in litigation.
    3. Temporary bridges should replace damaged spans wherever possible to restore traffic.
    4. Underwater damage assessment is critical to any repair / replacement solution.
    5. Contractor should have erred on side of safety and taken preventive measures when storm warnings were issued. Storm tracking is a highly developed art, not an exact science and storms are known to change all the time. Poor judgement.

  17. JC on September 23rd, 2020 4:29 pm

    hey sick and tired….. Skanska is responsible to a point. They are responsible for making sure there barges and cranes are tied up in a safe position to not break away. They got lose and for that part they are responsible. Even though the NHC had all models possible, they should have prepared for it anyway.

  18. fred on September 23rd, 2020 1:34 pm

    Suffice it to say that none of the road and bridge contractors have been models of project management competency. This new information pretty well assures us that it’s going to be a LOT longer than 60 days; I’d be surprised to have it open again in a year.

  19. Neo on September 23rd, 2020 12:36 pm

    Per FDOT policies, the new bridges are typically designed for vessel and barge collision. If this is the case, how come the substructure rotated, collapsed and pile broke?

  20. maxwell on September 23rd, 2020 11:46 am

    The old bridge was hit by a barge several years ago, before the Garson Point bridge was built. I had a friend living in Gulf Breeze and working in Mobile. He had to go to Hwy 87 for months while the 3 Mile bridge was being repaired.

  21. sick and tired on September 23rd, 2020 10:54 am

    Skanska is not to blame, most of Pensacola was unprepared. The NHC ignored all the other models that predicted almost exactly what happened. Blame NHC for lack of preparation. FDOT is responsible for ensuring a safe environment on their job sites.

  22. Wayne on September 23rd, 2020 10:48 am

    If the FDOT deals with it….well…just look at 9 mile road project in Beulah…we are all going to plummet into the bay…..
    Love the FDOT politics

  23. David on September 23rd, 2020 10:42 am

    It would be a terrible thing if bumpers were installed at the pilings wouldnt it
    But it would not look aesthetically pleasing ….is why not perhaps
    Or…rubber barges…..glad no one was hurt…so far.
    That other bridge from the 50s and the one just vacated had seen numerous hits from barges and other water craft
    But concrete today is not strong as it was in the 50s either
    The formula and additives make things cure faster…hurry up..hurry up….
    Lots of whats wrong with the world today
    Quality specs change so we can say ” it met specification”
    Lower the specification each time…you will always meet it

  24. Mel on September 23rd, 2020 10:40 am

    RB and KK…Guess you all missed the part where this was not due to the storm itself, but a barge ramming into it multiple times during the storm. This was a pretty prominent story during, and right after, the storm.

  25. S.S. on September 23rd, 2020 9:48 am

    I was in the road and bridge building business for 15 years in Escambia, & Conecuh counties Al. and I have never seen anything like this. Supervision was asleep at the wheel no doubt. I feel for the ones affected by it , and the aggravation it causes on the community as a whole.

  26. JM on September 23rd, 2020 9:45 am

    Any sections being removed could be placed in the deep water of the bay for structure and better fishing. Most of the old bridge was taken off shore.

  27. PS on September 23rd, 2020 9:36 am

    Bridge Tolls should remain lifted until the 3 mile bridge is repaired and reopened.
    FDOT will have payments on-going to Skanska on the construction of phase 2 of the bridge construction.

    The Garcon tolls can be deducted from payouts on the bridge construction.

    Pensacola and Gulf Breeze citizens paid tax dollars for the new bridge and now are being inconvenienced having to drive around and incur additional cost. Tolls should be 100% of Skanska for their neglect to properly prepare for a tropical storm or hurricane.
    They claim they only prepared for 35mph winds which does not make sense. When they were preparing it was a tropical storm which is 75mph winds.

    In hind site all the barges should have been secured properly on the shores of the Naval Live Oaks property and blocked from moving to cause any form of damage.

    There has been No spokes person stepping up and taking responsibility of the bridge damage and apologizing to the citizens and communicating a action plan and time line?

    Enough Said……….

  28. Bridge to nowhere on September 23rd, 2020 9:14 am

    Someone’s gonna pay!!!! Hope the barge operators/responsible party has good insurance. The dollars signs are flying. Lawyers gonna slam this company….. They’ll never recover from this…..

  29. rick on September 23rd, 2020 8:42 am

    the state should take over the garçon point bridge, pay the bondholders a just amount, and permanently remove the toll from the bridge. doing this will help to reduce traffic significantly in the gulf breeze area, and allow fdot to closely observe the remaining construction and repairs on the bay bridge. skanska is lying about not having time to relocate their equipment before the storm. they have moved it away from the bridge site before when storms were in the northern gulf, and they could have done it this time.

  30. Niknak50 on September 23rd, 2020 7:48 am

    Re: KK The old one was never hit by a barge. But its sad. Brand new bridge.

  31. Alan on September 23rd, 2020 7:44 am

    Would be nice if businesses, just like for COVID, looked at employees who can work from home or on different shifts. Stagger work start/stop times, where possible, to relieve everyone trying to get back and forth to work at same time. The majority of employees start work between 7-9am and stop between 330-530pm. See if that can change.

    Traffic on Avalon Blvd/Garcon Point bridge is already crazy and getting worse by the day. I noticed last night about 545pm, it was bumper to bumper going northbound from the toll booth to the I-10 bridge, with most of that traffic turning on 8-10 west toward Pensacola. If it wasn’t for the FHP assisting with traffic flow getting on I-10, it would of been much worse.

  32. Matt on September 23rd, 2020 7:41 am


    Surely you are not serious? The new bridge didn’t collapse because of the wind… it collapsed from the multi-ton barge smashing into over and over during the storm.

  33. Citizen on September 23rd, 2020 7:34 am

    The bridge it self survived the hurricane. The negligence of the contractor caused this failure. They should be responsible for all repair cost. Should have to issue payments to everyone who has to travel for work for gas and time. I am sure this is adding an additional 4 hours a day to the workers. This is also going to affect tourism for the beach. As well as many other businesses in Gulf Breeze.
    This is pure negligence.

  34. RB on September 23rd, 2020 7:33 am

    If this was a Cat 1, what happens if a 3,4, or even 5 comes in?

  35. Pissed at Skanska on September 23rd, 2020 6:12 am

    Tolls should be suspended until the Theee mile bridge is back up. Skanska should be given the bill to cover the tolls until they fix the bridge!

  36. KK on September 23rd, 2020 5:53 am

    So tell me again why we needed a new 3 mike bridge? This one didn’t survive one hurricane season. The old one survived decades of storms.

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