BREAKING: Bridge contractor to replace concrete

After months of downplaying the seriousness of cracks found in construction of the new Pensacola Bay Bridge, the contractor will tear out and replace several sections,

Ian Satter, a Florida Department of Transportation official, wrote to the Navarre Press in an email on Thursday that Skanska USA, the agency’s general contractor on the $400 million project, will replace “small sections” of concrete in eight areas of the bridge deck that have been completed so far.

That decision is a distinct change from FDOT’s earlier announced plan to fix what it has been describing as mostly surface cracks by either milling of injections with a chemical sealant.

“A majority of the cracks are surface cracks that will be removed through the planing of the concrete, a standard practice in the concrete bridge building process,” Satter wrote. “In very small sections on eight (out of the 57) spans that have been placed, the contractor will remove and replace the concrete.”

Word of the more extreme fix came a day after FDOT and Skanska officials took State Sen. Doug Broxson on a guided tour of the construction site. He told this newspaper on Thursday, “I expect FDOT to do everything possible to ensure the public’s safety. They have the expertise and I will hold them accountable.”

FDOT hasn’t estimated how long the concrete replacement will take but said earlier this week that the project is still on schedule to reach roughly the half-way point in January, which will qualify Skanska for a $15 million bonus.

Yet FDOT is still withholding about $583,000 in payments for concrete work until the agency is satisfied it has been properly repaired.

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