Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Friday, December 8

Bridge Coming Along - Completion Slated for April 2008


Project Director Steve Underwood likes helping oversee bridge projects.
"When you're out on the water, you know where everything's at," he said. "It's always in its place."

For the U.S. 90 Biloxi Bay bridge project, that means it's in about 300 feet of water spanning the width of the bay, reaching from the barges holding concrete pilings and metal forms moored under what's left of the old bridge, south to where near-continuous dredging keeps a work channel open.

GC Constructors, a joint venture of several major contractors, is building the $338.6 million bridge, and Underwood said the project is on schedule to meet the Nov. 13, 2007, deadline to have two lanes open. He and Project Engineer Tom Tavernaro said it's an ambitious schedule, one that will be a tight go.

So far, they have a quarter of the pilings driven for the bridge. There are 12 piers complete on the west side of the bridge; the entire structuring needs 72.

The bridge will differ from the one across the Bay of St. Louis being built by Granite Archer Western. The Biloxi Bay bridge uses pilings to the waterline that support footings on which columns are poured before being topped with caps for all its supports.
The Bay of St. Louis bridge uses similar design for the higher portions of the bridge with 85 feet of clearance, but uses groups of piles topped with caps for the lower portions.
"You can use a smaller class of crane for the piledriving," Tavernaro said. "Our maximum pile length is just under 100 feet."

GC Constructors hopes to begin erecting girders, which run the length of the bridge, by the end of the month. It could pour its first sections of decking by the end of January.
Crews have cleared about 40 percent of the old bridge out, with the debris beingtaken offshore from Deer Island to build reefs.

"I know there's been some questions about why we aren't tearing the main span down first," Tavernaro said. "Basically, we focus on what we need to start piledriving on the north bridge."
The bridge has two spans, with the north bridge scheduled to open by the first milestone. It will begin and end where the old bridge did, but swings out about 150 south of the old footprint.
GC Constructors has about 180 hourly workers and 45 on salary on the job. That total will eventually swell to around 300, with the entire project slated to be complete by April 2008.
Crews are working in a single 10-hour shift, six days a week, and so far they haven't had problems finding workers.

"Knock on wood, we haven't yet," Underwood said. "We've been very fortunate."
One of the project's bigger concrete pours on one of the supports for the navigation span was last week, barging in 630 yards of concrete from the Biloxi and Ocean Springs sides - about 2.5 million pounds worth of material.

By mid-January, they expect to have the main span columns topped off.
"Then people will really be able to see the progress," said Underwood.

Go to for updates on the bridge progress.


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