Pensacola Bay Bridge Probably Won’t Reopen In March; More Damage Found

March 4, 2021

The Pensacola Bay Bridge is unlikely to open on March 22 as previously announced by the Florida Department of Transportation because more damage has been found.

As FDOT contractors were conducting repairs to the Pensacola Bay Bridge, it was determined that additional repair work was needed for one of the bridge’s trophy pieces. FDOT said the full replacement of the trophy piece will uphold FDOT’s commitment to provide the safe and efficient reconnection of the communities of Gulf Breeze and Pensacola and the delivery of a bridge that has a 75-year design life.

FDOT is currently conducting a comprehensive assessment of the replacement to determine how it will affect the current reopening schedule. FDOT previously announced its goal to re-open the Pensacola Bay Bridge in phases beginning with restoring two lanes of traffic by the week of March 22.

Trophy pieces, when placed atop piles, constitute bridge piers that are mounted at the end of each span to support the superstructure and transfer loads to the foundations.

Multiple crews are working around the clock to complete repair projects critical to the opening of the Pensacola Bay Bridge.

To date, completed repairs include:

  • 30 piles driven.
  • Five trophy pieces installed.
  • Twenty of 36 beams set.
  • Five of eleven partial decks replaced.
  • One of two full decks replaced.

FDOT’s phased approach will open two lanes of traffic (one in each direction) for the first 4,000 feet on the Pensacola side. The remaining approximate two miles of the bridge will be open to four lanes of traffic (two in each direction). During this initial phase, the speed limit will be temporarily set at 35 mph and emergency refuge areas will be available on the bridge. The second phase consists of opening the remaining 4,000 feet to four lanes of traffic.


29 Responses to “Pensacola Bay Bridge Probably Won’t Reopen In March; More Damage Found”

  1. Steve on March 8th, 2021 2:55 pm

    Henry is a friend of mine and he has plenty of boating experience on the waters of Pensacola Bay both in good weather and bad. What he is saying makes sense. Especially about putting workers at risk to move 50 barges during an approaching storm. Weather conditions were hazardous long before the storm hit shore and the bay can be a dangerous place at night for any vessel. If one Skanska employee had lost his or her life, would it be worth it? I say not. The whole thing is very unfortunate and certainly Skanska is having to pay a high price for their decisions. Everybody keeps throwing out phrases like “Skanska should have had a contingency plan”. I just can’t think of what that would have been with so many barges and equipment out in the bay and no safe place to put them. I agree that the entire situation really stinks, but the real culprits name is Sally.

    My main point is that Henry is a great guy and one of the smartest people I know. So I wouldn’t discount his opinion.

  2. Al Thomason on March 6th, 2021 10:18 pm

    Being involved in the barge traffic as a tow boat captain anytime a storm is within striking take barges and secure up the river and/or a safe place.. negligence is abound in this situation.. if you have not been employed in the industry, then maybe you are not an expert in this matter.. just saying

  3. Charlie on March 6th, 2021 4:35 pm

    For those wondering why the new “damage” wasn’t seen earlier, another news site explained why. It wasn’t visual until a safety weight/load test was performed on that area. It was only during the testing that the pier or support for that area was observed to suddenly slant to one side. So, I guess it is a great idea they do weight & load testing after finishing a section to see if it performs as expected & not wait until heavy traffic weight would end with the same result.

  4. Sd on March 6th, 2021 12:51 am

    So how does a 75 year bridge collapse by barge? I have concerns that it’s only a 75 year bridge in fair weather

  5. Horse stuff on March 5th, 2021 11:58 pm

    I worked as an offshore oil field tugboat skipper for over 12 years way back when. Needless to say, my vessel was involved with many precautionary barge moves that were initiated by a tropical system that was FORCASTED TO MOVE INTO THE NORTHERN GULF and said assets were within the THREE DAY CONE. Of course planning for those towing resources began before that, and this was with 80s and 90s forecasting accuracies. So , NO they were betting on it not hitting here, and that bet was lost.

  6. Henry Coe on March 5th, 2021 6:05 pm

    Re: Aaron, No, I do not work for Skanska. I just follow hurricanes and tracking them is like a lifetime hobby. After the hurricane I went back and considered the timeline for the weather conditions as well as the warnings and thought about the logistics involved with trying to move 50 barges to Bayou Chico from the Bay Bridge over a 30 hour time frame in Tropical Storm and Hurricane conditions. Then I wondered, with short notice at 4pm the afternoon before the storm, how Skanska could get the right people in place to handle that task in the bay, in a hurricane, at night.

  7. aaron on March 5th, 2021 2:08 pm

    @ henry coe bruh do you work for skanska?? sounds like it. anyone who cant see their negligence is blind!

  8. Citizen on March 5th, 2021 1:41 pm


    ….no, not at all.

  9. CJ Lewis on March 5th, 2021 11:47 am

    “As FDOT contractors were conducting repairs to the Pensacola Bay Bridge, it was determined that additional repair work was needed for one of the bridge’s trophy pieces.” That sentence seems to suggest that the bridge was not properly inspected after being damaged and before repair work began. If that is what happened, that snafu seems a new news story all its own. Who inspected the bridge and why did they miss this? Once the bridge is open, or maybe before, the Board of County Commissioners needs to remove the Pensacola Beach bridge toll altogether. None of the toll money collected has anything to do with the bridge. I seem to recall that the BCC pledged the toll money to pay off another beach project. However, pledging a specific type of money does not prevent the BCC from using other types of money to pay off the project’s debt. There is plenty of money in the Escambia County budget for all sorts of “nice to have” things except for public safety that is historically underfunded because none of the incumbents ever pay a price for it at election time to include blaming the Sheriff for the county’s high crime rate knowing that most voters do not know that the BCC decides how much or how little money the Sheriff gets. On the bridge toll, Commissioner Barry once correctly pointed out that it is effectively a “tax” on Escambia County residents. I believe he said that 70% of the bridge toll (“tax”) is paid by Escambia County residents. Imagine how much faster the traffic would flow onto and off of the island without the tool booth. For those who never go that way, there is no bridge toll at the Navarre Beach end of Santa Rosa Island.

  10. Hard Pill to Swallow on March 5th, 2021 11:12 am

    Mark it down right now, Skanska and its sub-contractors will not be held financially responsible because they are protected by federal maritime law, which limits their liability. The taxpayers will pay 100% in the end and the contractors will be paid in full.

  11. MR REALITY on March 5th, 2021 10:48 am

    suprise face…Our road dept is run by FOOLS who are collecting a check…..

  12. MR REALITY on March 5th, 2021 10:46 am

    Henery Coe, what are you talking about? A business the size of scamska should have PLANS IN PLACE to react to any situtation PRIOR TO THE LAST MINUTE….I knew 48 hours in advance to GAS UP, she was coming this way…People like you make excuse after excuse for a GIANT COMPANY who should have CONTIGENCY PLANS in place…..You do know what that is dont you Henry?

  13. Henry Coe on March 5th, 2021 8:40 am

    re:”Skanska failed by being grossly negligent in their failure to properly secure their barges.”

    To say this is too totally omit the time frame for the Tropical Storm and Hurricane warnings as they occurred in real time along with the deteriorating weather conditions, the loss of daylight and the logistics of Skansa being able to put a crew in the water late in the afternoon to work through the night to secure 50 barges for a hurricane.
    The hurricane was going into the Louisiana/Mississippi border area initially. By the time the track shifted, the weather was already here. The conditions were already deteriorating. Putting crew in the water to secure barges was too dangerous. Securing barges meant moving them to Bayou Chico in hurricane conditions. A logistical impossibility.
    It sucks what happened and we can learn from it but to blame Skanska when they are subject to the same warning system from NOAA/NHC as the rest of us, IMO, is a real stretch.

  14. Andy on March 5th, 2021 8:19 am

    Amen to that, Alex. This part of the state deteriorates more and more every year. Eyesores everywhere you turn. There are leadership and cultural issues that are getting worse, not better.

  15. Scott on March 5th, 2021 8:13 am

    3 biggest lies: I gave at the office, I did not have sex with that woman and the bridge will open in March….

  16. bill on March 5th, 2021 7:43 am

    FDOT is paying over $1mm per year to maintain the Garcon Point Bridge while the defaulted bonds are still accruing interest at 6.75%…as long as the bonds remain unpaid, FDOT is responsible for the repair and or replacement of the bridge(if it wears out)….FDOT can presently borrow money at approx 2% via tax exempt bond market…FDOT could issue bonds at 2% and refund the outstanding bonds at 6.75%, by doing so FDOT could lower the toll from $5 to $2(or less) giving relief to the unfortunates who must use the bridge…

  17. Really? on March 5th, 2021 5:38 am

    I wonder how fast the bridge would be repaired if the military base leadership said fix it by such and such a date or we move the base to a different county that has better leadership…

  18. William Reynolds on March 5th, 2021 2:40 am

    “This whole area is broken when it comes to leadership and people/projects being held accountable. I’ve been spending time in another city in FL and everything is run pretty well for the most part. This would be a fantastic area if we had real leadership and a gov’t/media that actually held people and companies accountable.”

    Your comment has no basis in facts.

    You should know the Pensacola Bay Bridge project is run by the Florida Department of Transportation, the same agency that runs road projects in the other city you mentioned. The bridge problems are not the responsibility of Escambia or Santa Rosa counties.

    Just Thursday night, the Escambia County Commission hired a team of three big time law firms to protect the county’s interests n the bridge matter.

  19. Alex on March 5th, 2021 2:31 am

    This whole area is broken when it comes to leadership and people/projects being held accountable. I’ve been spending time in another city in FL and everything is run pretty well for the most part. This would be a fantastic area if we had real leadership and a gov’t/media that actually held people and companies accountable.

  20. Tracy Smith on March 5th, 2021 1:02 am

    Speaking of 29 repaving in the Northend. When are they going to finish it? They can’t leave it the way it is… The turnabout and cross street median are atrocious.. not level with rest of road, the start and finish spots aren’t level. Just because a company’s bid is lowest doesn’t mean it will be done right. They have so many clauses in the contracts that they actually end up getting more $$ than the bid.

  21. Nod on March 4th, 2021 10:50 pm

    You tell’em adam. Maybe some day they will get it right

  22. Bama on March 4th, 2021 10:42 pm

    I drive Hwy 29 daily. Many days in beautiful weather there is no one working on the highway. 9 mile rd is almost as bad. Why would anyone expect the bridge to be completed on time.

  23. Alan on March 4th, 2021 10:37 pm

    I have a hard time believing almost 6 months later, they have found damage on a bridge trophy piece which sits above the waterline, making it easily visible by the inspectors. I think this is just a convenient coincidence being used to hide poor project management and scheduling as well as excessive weather delays.

  24. J.Larry Seale on March 4th, 2021 9:45 pm

    This is the way the county, pensacola, and DOT
    Try getting some help from the road dept……..

  25. No surprise here on March 4th, 2021 9:12 pm

    Well, well, well. Imagine that, the bridge won’t be opening on schedule. It joins the ranks of Davis Hwy, Hwy 29, 9-Mile(year) Rd and most any other infrastructure calendar EVER set here. Never on time, way over budget and an inconvenience to people ALL around the county. And yet the county commissioners and contractors continue to get elected AND get paid.

  26. Adam on March 4th, 2021 9:09 pm

    Every single person involved with this has failed the public.
    - Skanska failed by being grossly negligent in their failure to properly secure their barges.
    - Local government has failed to provide the community with appropriate assistance. Both businesses and those of us having to make the financially and temporally exorbitant commute.
    - Both Skanska and FDOT failed by not properly identifying all damaged aspects of construction until nearly SIX MONTHS since the damage occurred.

    Vote out every representative that has failed us.

  27. ensley boy on March 4th, 2021 7:53 pm

    I was wondering if the Garcon Point Bridge bond holders are keeping track of all the tolls they are losing and plan to present Skanska with a bill once they are allowed to charge tolls again?

  28. Surprise face on March 4th, 2021 7:24 pm

    Just like Hwy 29 won’t be finished in May 2021 as promised.

    Having served in the military for 20 plus years and lived all over these United States, I have never seen the kind of mismanagement and inept leadership that we have here in Pensacola in regards to maintaining and repairing our roads and highways.

  29. j on March 4th, 2021 6:22 pm

    No one expected this to happen on time anyway.

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