CLEARWATER — Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard at the U.S. 19 intersection should reopen in time for today's morning commute, officials said Wednesday.
The closed intersection created traffic backups Wednesday as motorists sought alternate routes around one of the busiest intersections in Pinellas County. Gulf-to-Bay was shut down Tuesday afternoon after two semitrailer trucks hit a sagging girder on a closed U.S. 19 overpass, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
That old overpass was already closed to traffic. It was slated for demolition next week, because U.S. 19 traffic had already been moved to a new overpass as part of the ongoing reconstruction of the highway.
By Wednesday afternoon, DOT officials announced they had removed two of the four girders on the old bridge. It was taking about five hours to remove each girder. They originally planned to remove the damaged girder last, but decided to take it down next because it was sagging more and presented a hazard.
As for why the two trucks hit the overpass to begin with, investigators measured the trucks and found that they were not too high. Eyewitnesses say the girder that was hit had started to sag before the crash, said DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.
The old bridge was last inspected in March, and inspectors found no problems with it.
An investigation into the accident is continuing.