Bridging The Gulf

Marking replacement of the first of three major Hurricane Katrina-ravaged bridges, Phase I of the U.S. Highway 90 Bay St. Louis Bridge in Mississippi

Steven Prokopy

Marking replacement of the first of three major Hurricane Katrina-ravaged bridges, Phase I of the U.S. Highway 90 Bay St. Louis Bridge in Mississippi opened one lane in each direction in mid-May Û less than two years after storm surge submerged the original 54-year-old structure.

Lead contractor Granite Archer Western, a joint venture of Watsonville, Calif.-based Granite Construction Co. and Archer Western Contractors of Atlanta, worked with three tireless and capable precast producers Û Gulf Coast Pre-Stress (which manufactured piles and modified bulb tee girders for the project); Standard Concrete Products (conventional girders); and, F&S Prestress (shorter-span Type 4 girders) Û on a rapid schedule to ensure the replacement structure was opened on time.

Gulf Coast barged product from its Pass Christian, Miss., plant, located on a Bay St. Louis inlet. Likewise, Standard used barge delivery, fabricating products at its Port of Tampa (Fla.) plant. F&S shipped product from its facility in Hattiesburg, Miss. Construction on Phase 1 of the $266.8 million design-build project was completed in 10.5 months, qualifying the builders for a $5 million Mississippi Department of Transportation deadline incentive payment. The bridge’s other two lanes are scheduled for opening by the end of November. (The contractor could face a $50,000-per-day penalty for each day beyond the November 30 deadline for Phase 2.)

The afternoon ceremony on May 17 took place on the west side of the bridge. MissDOT, along with federal, state and local dignitaries, initiated the ceremony followed by two busloads of participants taking a short ride to the top of the bridge for the tying together of a huge ribbon signifying the communities are once again connected. Participants then traveled to the Henderson Point (Pass Christian) side of the bridge and back again.

Re-establishing the link between the communities of Bay St. Louis and Henderson Point, Miss., the project includes rebuilding the nearly two-mile, four-lane structure, which saw daily traffic of about 20,000 vehicles. When completed, the new bridge will have four, 12-ft.-wide lanes (two in each direction) separated by a median barrier, with an 8-ft.-wide inside shoulder and a 10-ft.-wide outside shoulder. It also will feature a 12-ft.-wide shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists alongside the eastbound vehicle lanes. The new structure will provide a center span of 250 feet (compared to the original bridge’s 52-ft.-long spans) with about 80-85 feet of vertical clearance (35 feet at the approaches) to accommodate marine traffic.

The Granite Archer partnership oversaw the removal of the damaged structure, as well as the design and reconstruction of the new bridge, the first design-build project ever constructed by MissDOT. URS, a consulting engineering firm experienced in design-build projects, is providing project oversight on behalf of MissDOT.

The opening of two lanes of this bridge is symbolic of the recovery of the coast, says Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown. We encouraged the public to participate in celebrating this significant milestone.

Bridges are vital to daily life for area residents, adds MissDOT Executive Director Larry Butch Brown. We are pleased that rapid progress for this massive project enables us to re-establish two lanes of bridge traffic, improving mobility and quality of life for residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

As Phase 2 work proceeds at the Bay St. Louis site, the GC Constructors Joint Venture is gearing up for a scheduled mid-November 2007 of the U.S. 90 Biloxi Bay Bridge/Phase 1, providing single-lane eastbound and westbound service. The $339 million design-build project is scheduled for April 2008 completion and will see a precast/prestressed schedule similar to that of Bay St. Louis.

The job perhaps most challenging to the Gulf area precast/prestressed plant infrastructure is the Interstate 10 Twin Span Bridge, crossing Lake Ponchartrain just west of New Orleans. A $803 million, 5.4-mile undertaking, the project is scheduled for late-2009 completion.