Five months into the Gasparilla Island bridge-building project, progress continues to be encouraging and the project is 23 percent complete.
"Construction of Orion Marine's to fixed bridges remains on schedule at Day 150," Jim Cooper, Gasparilla island Bridge Authority executive director e-mailed Wednesday in his weekly update. "The second Center Bridge footing will be poured Friday and the first hammerhead style cap will be poured Aug. 17."
Footings will be poured from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. each Friday.
The finish date for the new South Bridge remains March 2013 and the completion date for the new Center Bridge remains December 2013.
"In just eight more months our new GIBA replacement South Bridge becomes fully operational for all GIBA two-lane traffic," Cooper wrote. "The new bridge will provide all users with a variety of improvements: 9-foot taller elevation, 17-foot storm surge protection, wider deck to allow emergency vehicles 24/7 access, 4-foot shoulders and the first pedestrian safe sidewalk on the west side."
Orion is now working on the most visible phase of the Center Bridge construction process with the vertical "building up" phase for five key structural support sections (bents or piers), which function much like the legs on a table.
What: GIBA Board meeting
When: 1:30 p.m. Nov. 2
Where: Boca Grande Community Center Woman's Club Room
Why: Bridge replacement project
Who: Open to the public
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
"As the new caps are built, islanders will have a better perspective of the new Center Bridge's height," Cooper said.
From 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Friday, Orion will use flagmen for a concrete pour on the third footing using one lane on the Center Bridge. This same scenario will continue to occur each week through October as Orion pours all remaining footings, columns and caps for GIBA's new fixed bridges.
South Bridge progress notes
Orion's barge crews continue driving in water production pilings(built in its Tampa headquarters. At the end of this week Orion will have completed driving 19 of the 36 total required for the South Bridge.
Orion's road crews will continue to build up the new retaining wall for the elevated GIBA South Bridge. The south area bulkhead wall has been completed. Orion is working on the excavation and the north end bulkhead wall.
Center Bridge progress notes
All 12 in-water production pilings are now set.
n The second column will be poured Friday. Columns stand on footings. Each column is 7 feet in diameter and about 12-feet tall.
Large Center Bridge caps are designed in hammerhead style to rest on the columns and provide the structural support for four large beams that support the final new Center bridge deck.
Each massive new Center Bridge cap is custom designed. They are 37 feet long, 6.5 feet tall and 5-feet deep. The unique forms needed to support the pour for each cap require extensive engineering, including special bracing ties to the footings.