Halls River bridge getting new tech in makeover

PHOTO CAPTION: 

BELOW, LEFT: Richard Frank, Construction Manager at the FDOT's Brooksville Operations Center. BELOW, RIGHT: This image shows the layout of the new Halls River Bridge. (Click the image for larger image)

The halls River Bridge on Citrus County Road 490-A is getting a makeover.

As it sits today, it's certainly no spring chicken, having been built in 1954.

The new bridge will also have a new way of reinforcement. Gone are the days of rebar; now a new technique is being introduced - reinforcement by carbon fiber. It's the first bridge of its kind in Florida, according to Florida Department of Transportation's Richard Frank, Construction Manager at the FDOT's Brooksville Operations Center.

Richard Frank, Construction Manager at the FDOT's Brooksville Operations Center."The Bridge will use carbon fiber reinforcements instead of steel, which will contribute to the longevity of the structure itself. It won’t rust, like steel would," Frank said.

The estimated cost of the project is $6.9 million, to be paid for entirely by the Federal Highway Works Administration. Representing the county during construction will be the FDOT. A notice to proceed is expected for the August-to-September time frame. No work will be done until after scallop season, which is runs from June 25 to Sept. 24. The construction will take 310 days.

This image shows the layout of the new Halls River Bridge. (Click for larger image)During construction, the north side will be demolished, and all traffic will be put on the south side of the bridge. The new bridge will feature 12-foot lanes, two eight-foot shoulders, and the traffic will be separated from the pedestrian area on both sides of the bridge by a railing and traffic barriers. There will be two five-foot sidewalks and a three-foot area for water, sewer and other potential utilities.

As for the roadway to the bridge, there will be 12-foot lanes, and eight-foot shoulders, with five feet of the shoulders paved.

County commissioners hearing the project details on Tuesday during regular session, had a few questions, but largely seem pleased with the project, especially given the "free" nature of the project. Even so, it was noted, there may be costs not associated with the actual project, such as liabilities and other legal possibilities, the county county potentially have to pay for itself.

And liability was on the mind of Commissioner of Scott Carnahan.

"If something goes wrong, who will be responsible, us or the state?" Carnahan asked Frank.

"I don't think there’s going to be a failure. I think there’s been enough testing on this matter; (otherwise) I don’t think we would have ever went forward with this style of project - neither the State of Florida or the FHWA," Frank said. "There have been successful projects throughout the country.

"This one may be the first in the State of Florida that’s been done this way, but there have been many successful bridges - I think about 10 of them, mostly in the Northeast and the Midwest. So I don’t really predict that we’re going to have a catastrophic type event."

Scott replied, "I appreciate that comment, but Florida’s weather is a little bit different than most. If there is (a catastrophic event) where does the responsibility lie?" County Administrator Randy Oliver replied that should something happen, he didn't think the FDOT woould "run away from it."

The use of carbon fiber reinforcement was brought up by Commissioner Dennis Damato. "It’s just a little unusual for us to see us jump from regular rebar (and) go right to carbon fiber, but I’m on board, Damato said.

Damage had three questions: How FDOT plans to address manatee protection, storm evacuation and the safety of the pilings. Bridge has been there since about 1954.

Frank answered that the piling procedures have been well-thought-out. As for manatee protection, he said the FDOT has comprehensive guidelines for their protection, including signage and watchers. "If we see a manatee, all work will stop until it leaves." In the event of a need for a storm evacuation, the procedure will be to effect a two-lane, one-way direction.

Video:

Halls River Bridge

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