Article from the Navarre Press (original article here), reposted here in its entirety.
By Rob Johnson, Navarre Press, July 18, 2018
Cracks in newly placed concrete during the current construction of the Pensacola Bay Bridge recently caused two temporary halts to work on the deck of the $400 million span, state officials told the Navarre Press Wednesday.“Cracks were identified in some of the newly placed concrete…,” said Tanya Branton in an email. “Work on this portion was halted while the concrete placement methods and materials were evaluated.”
The work stoppage was specifically on the new concrete bridge deck following an inspection in March. FDOT described the inspection as “routine.” It’s unclear whether the inspection came after the fatal collapse of a bridge at Florida International University in Miami on March 15.
Branton said the Pensacola Bay Bridge deck work stopped twice—first between April 5 and April 16 of this year, and again between June 26 and June 27.
Construction of the bridge began in 2017 and is scheduled to be finished in 2020. But the contractor, Skanska USA, faces a deadline on Jan. 26, 2019 to finish the eastbound section—meaning essentially three of the eventual six lanes—in order to earn a $15 million completion bonus.
Experts in bridge construction say the seriousness of cracks varies. “Any cracks should be taken seriously and looked at by an engineer,” said John Pepper, a Fort Lauderale construction engineer who testified in court cases related to flaws in building projects.
Pepper said cracks can be from “improper mixing of concrete,” among other problems.
FDOT’s Branton said, “Although cracking in concrete is not uncommon and can be attributed to many different issues, the concrete deck cracking found in the new Pensacola Bay Bridge deck has been attributed to the concrete mixture drying faster than anticipated during and after placement.”
The inspection, evaluation of the cracks and the decision to restart the work all came from within the ranks of FDOT and Skanska.
No public announcement of the cracking was made nor was any outside agency or contractor not involved with the bridge already called in to evaluate.
“An outside, independent testing company should immediately be employed to evaluate if there is any basis to believe the bridge has construction related problems,” said Pensacola attorney Bob Kerrigan.
Kerrigan, who has criticized the bidding procedure through which Skanska won the bridge contract, added: “It is unfair to sound an alarm before we know what is actually going on but FDOT should not be the entity evaluating the problem because they are the ones that selected this contractor. FDOT should immediately disclose everything they now know.”
Orlando attorney Matt Morgan said the bridge cracks underscore why bonuses of the sort being offered to Skanska to finish the work by a certain time are unwise: “As with any construction project, safety should always be the primary consideration. In my opinion, monetary bonuses on construction projects can lead to unnecessary risk and pressure on team members to complete the job as quickly as possible.”
Morgan, who has filed a lawsuit in the FIU bridge collapse on behalf of some victims, added, “Complex construction projects should always proceed in a deliberate, cautious and calculated manner to ensure the safety of the general public.”
Branton, who said public safety is always her agency’s top priority, noted, “The contractor’s current work schedule shows they are on track to achieve the bonus for shifting traffic to the new eastbound bridge.”
“Cracks where FIU bridge buckled may have signaled ‘imminent failure'”
“State asks judge to block release of records that might show why FIU bridge collapsed”
“The FIU Bridge Collapse: Do We Need Slow Engineering?”