Tropical Storm Debby slowed work on the Boca Grande bridge replacement project but could not derail it.
Construction begins July 9 on the new replacement South Bridge, which will be 9 feet higher than its predecessor. It will be fully operational in March 2013.
Orion's barge crews will use the 330-ton crane Big Red to begin preparation for placement of five new test piles. All new GIBA bridge concrete production pilings will be more than 100-feet long and driven at least 82 feet below the sea floor.
Water stains mark the small margin of load-bearing embedded depth in this South Bridge piling. Jim Cooper, Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority executive director, said a strong storm surge could have wiped out the old south Bridge because of such small margin of safety.
The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority reports work on the new Center and South bridges as of July 3, is 15 percent compete on Day 107 of the 630-day bridge project schedule.
The finish date for the new South Bridge remains March 2013 and the completion date for the new Center Bridge remains December 2013.
The asphalt road alongside the South and thee Center Bridge will be ground up, removed and recycled in base preparation for fill material needed to build up ramps on both sides of the new GIBA South Bridge for 200 feet on each side.
Bridge construction keys
Prime contractor: Orion Marine Construction of Tampa
Start: Construction began March 12 on Center and South fixer bridges
South Bridge completion: March 2013
Center Bridge completion: December 2013
GIBA ad valorem milestones
April 25: Decided specific terms of property tax to be placed on ballot
July 9: File ballot language with county
Oct. 1: Toll increases to $6 per vehicle
Oct. 19: Official public notice of referendum
Nov. 6: Election Day
Orion's road crews will also begin to build the new retaining wall for the GIBA South Bridge next week.
The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority blamed TS Debby for costing two days of work during its four-day gust. Orion crews also did not work during the July 4 holiday.
"Orion's proactive construction process over the past three months allowed it to stay on track despite the U.S. Coast Guard's ban on all coastal barge traffic from Tampa to Naples during the storm," said Jim Cooper, Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority executive director.
The South Bridge was eradicated June 22 after 10 days of demolition work right before TS Debby's arrival.
Center Bridge progress
Orion crews have finished installing all 60 in-water pilings and five piers.
Orion crews will continue to install sheet piles for another 90 feet or so on the north end and east side of the old GIBA Center Bridge near the abutment walls. Some temporary single-lane traffic situations will occur during this period.
Excavation work at bridge abutments will continue throughout July. Orion must remove a massive amount of earth material to lower the north and south sides of the bulkheads by 10 to 15 feet to begin the base preparation for the new elevated access road. Removed material will be recycled back into the base for the new approach access road on the north & south side.
Orion's crews are building five rebar basket cages, which will be used for the new concrete poured-in-place massive piling caps that secure each of the 12 in-water piling clusters required to support the new Center Bridge.