One of the most expensive repairs will be to the Interstate 10 bridge to Pensacola, which was seriously damaged by high waves.
Florida taxpayers can expect a price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars to repair roads and bridges like this one damaged by Hurricane Ivan. The I-10 bridge to Pensacola was almost destroyed by the crashing waves.
State Transportation Secretary Jose Abreu says the near-total failure of the structure caught him by surprise.
Jose says, “Even though that bridge was probably built in the late 60s, I mean today, we would have built it higher, still it was about 15 feet from normal sea level and it has been way higher than that to do the damage that it did. “
At least one trucker who tried to cross the bridge was still unaccounted for more than a day after it collapsed. The Florida Highway Patrol fears there may have been other vehicles on the bridge too.
FHP is catching some heat for not closing the I-10 bridge as they did do with other bridges around Florida during this summer of storms. The official response is, drivers should have known better.
COL Chris Knight of the Florida Highway Patrol says, “I think it was very well-publicized, radio-wise, television, print media, that at a particular point, don’t be out, don’t be out on the roadways, and we hope people heed those warnings.”
Obviously in that particular case, they didn’t.
FHP says barricades warning motorists away would have only added to the dangers in high winds. In the meantime, transportation officials predict it could take a year or more to repair roads and bridges that took a direct hit.
Divers have been searching the waters beneath the I-10 bridge for other motorists who may have gone off the span during the storm, but the water is still too rough for an extensive search.
Transportation officials expect to have a temporary bridge in place within a few days, using lanes that survived the damage for two-way traffic.