UPDATE: 3-Mile Bridge Is Open
UPDATE: The 3-Mile Bridge opened to traffic early Friday morning.
The big question around the area is: When will the 3-Mile Bridge be open?
“We don’t have a specific time for when the bridge will open,” said Ian Satter, spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation. He says there is still some work to do before the bridge can be open to traffic.
“Right now we are finishing our critical path items for the reopening of the Pensacola Bay Bridge. And what we mean by that is making sure that the appropriate signage is out there, making sure that the striping is complete, making sure that the work zone is still secure because it still is an active work zone. So all of those efforts are going on as we speak.”
The bridge, of course, has been closed to traffic since September when construction barges broke loose during Hurricane Sally and heavily damaged the span. The Department of Transportation originally posted an estimated opening date in late March, but that date was moved back when additional damage was found on the structure. Since then, the week of May 31 has been the target. Satter says that hasn’t changed. “We are confident that we will have the bridge open by the deadline of May 31. The week of May 31 is what we originally said, but we are very confident that the contractor can have the bridge open by May 31.”
When the bridge opens to traffic, it will be limited to one lane in each direction for about a mile near the Pensacola landing site. There is no timetable for restoring all lanes in both directions.
“Right now our main focus is just getting traffic on the bridge, restoring traffic and connecting Gulf Breeze and Pensacola and then working (towards) that four-lane eventually," said Satter. "Right now the main focus is let’s get traffic on that bridge and then we can work on the final restoration of all lanes on that bridge, (but) we don’t have a time for that.”
Currently the majority of people that would be taking the 3 Mile Bridge are using the Garcon Point Bridge. The tolls on that bridge have been waived since September and are due to be reinstated on June 6.
But those tolls may not be coming back anytime soon.
“I do believe that the toll is going to remain lifted until we have four lanes back on the 3 Mile Bridge,” said Florida District 2 Representative Alex Andrade.
“Reinstituting the toll on (The Garcon Point Bridge) would just divert all that traffic to the 2 lanes on (the) 3 Mile Bridge, and it would result in a really negative traffic situation that no one wants to create," said Andrade. "So I think that between the circumstances, between the advocacy efforts of myself and Senator (Doug) Broxson and the commitments that we received from D.O.T. , I’m comfortable saying the toll is going to remain lifted until we have 4 lanes back on the bridge.”
Andrade says he believes the bridge could open sooner than the 31st, but will defer to FDOT’s estimate. And while there is no official timetable, Andrade believes all four lanes could be open by late June or early July. Either way, motorists likely have less than a week to wait for the reopening of the main link between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze.
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