Garcon Point Toll Suspension Extended; FDOT Advancing Pensacola Bay Bridge Repairs

October 23, 2020

Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended the toll suspension on the Garcon Point Bridge for another three weeks, and the Florida Department of Transportation said they are moving forward toward actual repair of the Pensacola Bay Bridge.

Tolls on the Garcon Point Bridge are now suspended until 6 a.m. on Friday, November 13. The Garcon Point Bridge is the shortest detour route round the closed Pensacola Bay Bridge, which was struck by multiple Skanska barges during Hurricane Sally.

Skansak said late Thursday that three of the four barges left under the Pensacola Bay Bridge have now been “retrieved”.

“Each barge represents a unique and technically complex recovery operation that we are managing carefully with our partners to mitigate further physical or environmental damage,” Skanska said in an email to NorthEscambia.com.

As demolition efforts progress on the Pensacola Bay Bridge, FDOT is advancing material fabrication in preparation for reconstruction efforts to begin.

Multiple concrete piles, the vertical support structure that’s used to hold up the bridge; piers, the raised structure that sits in a body of water to support the bridge; and beams, the linear structural member designed to span from one support to another will be required to repair the Pensacola Bay Bridge. To date:

  • Fifty-one concrete piles are on-hand at the precast yard.
  • Thirty-six prestressed beams have been cast.
  • Thirty-three concrete piles have been ordered from another facility in Tampa to facilitate the expedited schedule.
  • Additional beams will be cast based on the final analysis of some of the damaged areas.
  • Replacement piers will begin casting by mid-November 2020.

FDOT has mobilized three bridge contractors on site to expedite demolition and design including:

  • Debris from two spans has been cleared along with the complete removal of one damaged span of the bridge as crews continue to carefully remove damaged portions from additional spans to minimize impacts to the existing structure. One barge remains under the bridge. To date, 17 of the 27 barges have been removed from the area.
  • Design is underway for the permanent repairs and reestablishment of four lanes of traffic on the bridge with a focus on substructure repairs which includes the piers. Modified pier design has been reviewed and approved by FDOT, which uses six new piles instead of four piles in the existing footing.

FDOT has been continuously working to improve the traffic flow along the Pensacola Bay Bridge detour routes. The following efforts have reduced the average commute time by 25 percent:

  • Installed a new temporary traffic signal at the I-10 westbound ramps at State Road (S.R.) 281
  • Delineators have been installed to provide a free flow southbound movement from the I-10 eastbound ramp onto southbound S.R. 281
  • Additional temporary traffic cameras have been installed that have significantly improved travel time.
  • The Road Ranger service that was previously on the Pensacola Bay Bridge has been relocated to the Garcon Point Bridge to help with minor incidents and to keep traffic flowing as much as possible.
  • FDOT has received approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to temporarily widen 2,000 feet of northbound and southbound S.R. 281 south of the I-10 interchange an widen the eastbound I-10 off ramp at eastbound S.R. 281 off ramp to two lanes.

To reinforce FDOT Secretary Kevin J. Thibault’s, P.E. expectation of complete transparency and community assistance, FDOT’s outreach team has met with stakeholder groups, state and local officials, civic organizations and local business owners to discuss the bridge reconstruction as well as other actions that are being considered to efficiently restore regional connectivity. FDOT will continue to meet with multiple stakeholder groups throughout the course of the project.

FDOT continues to develop and improve alternative transportation solutions to move people and goods safely and efficiently through the region while the Pensacola Bay Bridge is being repaired. Examples include:

  • Exploring all funding avenues available to implement a ferry service between Gulf Breeze and Pensacola.
  • Funding Escambia County Area Transit’s (ECAT) temporary bus route to help transport passengers between the Pensacola Bay Center Park in Escambia County and the Tiger Point Community Center City in Gulf Breeze.
  • Working with ECAT to modify the original route to include stops at the ECAT Transfer Center in Pensacola, the Palm Beach Club and Pensacola Beach Boardwalk in Pensacola Beach, and Gulf Breeze Hospital.
  • Gathering information such as potential ridership, times of operation, and duration of service as well as reviewing existing facilities that would be necessary for the safe operation of a ferry or additional bus routes.

The Pensacola Bay Bridge has a targeted re-opening date of early March 2021. Once repairs are complete, all four lanes will be open with no load restrictions and at the same condition as expected for new construction. As each repair method is developed, FDOT will be conducting reviews to ensure the contractor is hitting all milestones in the established schedule.

Comments

7 Responses to “Garcon Point Toll Suspension Extended; FDOT Advancing Pensacola Bay Bridge Repairs”

  1. Lou on October 27th, 2020 7:48 am

    Obviously many people around here don’t realize the Garcon Point Bridge is owned by a private group of stakeholders. In all this…there’s blame to go all around. Our area was taken by surprise. I personally would not mind paying $1.00 to use the bridge, even now…it is definitely convenient to use that bridge. I feel for everyone involved in this disaster….Skanska, businesses impacted, people who live and/or work in Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach. Thanks to our Governor for his guidance and assistance.

  2. Lou on October 24th, 2020 5:46 pm

    No more tolls. Make it free to improve traffic permanently. This is not la or New York. The income per capital is a lot lower.

  3. BluebellChik on October 23rd, 2020 11:22 pm

    They should take this opportunity to figure out why very few locals use the Garcon Point bridge regularly. Could it be because the toll is too expensive?
    Once the toll free period expires, make the toll $1.00 and monitor the revenue over a 12 month period. I am willing to bet that the revenue will increase.

  4. James Andrews on October 23rd, 2020 1:11 pm

    Thank you for helping us out..it is a burden but your input is very much appreciated.. please keep the good work up looking out for us I will remember when it’s voting time..

  5. James Rowland on October 23rd, 2020 10:59 am

    The Garcon tolls should remain suspended until the bridge is repaired in or near March-2021. And the FDOT should have mandated that Skanska reimburse the Garcon bond holders the full toll usage until such time the Pensacola Bay bridge is once again passable.

  6. Michael on October 23rd, 2020 8:43 am

    Keep it free until the three mile bridge reopens. Maintain record of the vehicle volume. Then tally that up and send the toll bill to skanska in the end

  7. Alan on October 23rd, 2020 8:03 am

    If the toll suspension is not going to last until the bridge is repaired, the Governor should ask the Bondholders to lower the toll From $5 to $1. This would provide approximately the same income as traffic counts are 5 times higher at this time.





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