“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,” said a news release by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). “These efforts are being done as quickly, but thoroughly, as possible and the exact timeline for completion of repairs remains unknown at this time.”
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, the website reported.
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.
According to FDOT and the website, 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.