Construction of New Pensacola Bay Bridge Begins

The Florida Department of Transportation is replacing the Sen. Philip D. Beall, Sr. Memorial Bridge on U.S. 98. The $398.5 million project is the largest transportation initiative in Northwest Florida history.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on June 26 helped to kick off the construction of the new Pensacola Bay Bridge, a $398.5 million project that is the largest transportation infrastructure project ever undertaken in Northwest Florida. The new bridge is expected to be completed in 2019 and will temporarily transition four lanes of traffic onto the structure, allowing for demolition of the existing bridge and completion of the second and final bridge in 2020.

"I was proud to join Northwest Florida leaders and community members to celebrate the kickoff of the new Pensacola Bay Bridge project today," Scott said. "This investment will help increase safety and efficiency for the many families and visitors that travel through this beautiful community each day and will also help support the creation of thousands of jobs. Thanks to our commitment to making record transportation investments, critical projects like the Pensacola Bay Bridge replacement will help ensure Florida's transportation infrastructure remains a national leader for generations to come."

The original Pensacola Bay Bridge opened in 1931 as a two-lane drawbridge at a reported cost of just $2.5 million, with users charged a $5 monthly toll. That bridge was in use throughout the 1950s, but on Oct. 31, 1960, then-Gov. Leroy Collins cut the ribbon for the current bridge, a four-lane structure named in honor of Florida State Senator Phillip D. Beall, Sr.

The replacement project will construct a new U.S. 98 (State Road 30) bridge across Pensacola Bay. U.S. 98 is an important east-west transportation corridor and a primary hurricane evacuation route for the Florida panhandle Gulf Coast. Daily traffic counts on the existing bridge are approximately 55,000, making traffic congestion a problem on the outdated structure, according to FDOT, and the lack of auxiliary lanes makes it difficult to respond to traffic incidents or remove disabled vehicles. The department's studies concluded replacing the bridge is more cost efficient than rehabilitation.

When completed, the new bridge will consist of two parallel structures, each with three 12-foot travel lanes, two 10-foot shoulders, and a 10-foot multi-use path for pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists. The project's design-build contractor is Skanska USA Civil Southeast, Inc.