I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tremendous Concerns over Proposed Bay Bridge Design

At the TPO meeting this morning the big item of concern was the plan for the replacement of the Pensacola Bay Bridge.  The plan to stage the construction with one side being utilized for travel both directions was panned by many in attendance.  The issue is that the width of the travel lanes are going to be even more narrow on the bridge during construction than are the lanes currently--and the current lane widths barely allow access by fire/emergency vehicles now.

Everyone, so far as I could tell, agrees that the eventual finished product will be amazing, but for the two year period where we will have to rely on just one side of the bridge span to accommodate traffic in both directions--this plan still needs work.  The police chief of Gulf Breeze, the Gulf Breeze mayor, the deputy fire chief of Gulf Breeze, Escambia County Emergency Management Director, and others spoke out with dire warnings about this plan going forward.  "We do 2,900 trips a year on the bridge as is" said one ambulance driver who spoke.  He continued "We barely have enough room to maneuver our vehicles as it is right now, and sometimes we clip the mirrors of other vehicles....with even more narrow lanes, we are going to have problems."

Another concern:  That drivers that glance over at the new construction happening on the bay will increase the number of rear-end collisions on the existing bridge.  "I think we're all guilty of rubber necking and looking at stuff that is going on around us when we should be watching the road--I know I am" said the Gulf Breeze police chief.  "This will make that situation even more concerning"

My sense is that the contractor that is doing this design build project will come back after the new year, to February's TPO meeting, with a new phasing strategy based upon the concerns voiced today--as it is abundantly clear from purely a safety perspective the current plan is a non-starter.....

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