Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Belleair bridge beams to arrive by barge

Drivers navigate around the construction of the Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge this week. The high-span bridge will be only the second “incrementally launched” bridge constructed in the United States.


Drivers navigate around the construction of the Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge this week. The high-span bridge will be only the second “incrementally launched” bridge constructed in the United States.

Huge concrete bridge beams riding on barges from as far away as the Bahamas will wend their way up the Intracoastal Waterway today.

Their destination: the Belleair Beach Causeway, where two massive cranes are waiting to hoist them into place Thursday to become the 530-foot center span of the $72.2-million Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge now under construction.

"This bridge is really unique. It is only the second bridge in the U.S. to be built this way," says Meg Korakis, Pinellas County spokeswoman for the project.

The construction method has a name — "incremental launching" — which means that the main sections of the bridge are constructed off-site and then lifted and "cranked" into place using large cranes and a hydraulic system applying 33,000 pounds per square inch of pressure.

It will take about three weeks to complete this part of the bridge, according to project manager Tony Horrnik.

The five concrete beams for this portion of the bridge were constructed in a plant in Tampa near the Gandy Boulevard Causeway and were to be barged down Tampa Bay and then up the Intracoastal Waterway, according to Horrnik.

Beginning Thursday, the beams will be joined to form three spans — one that is 200 feet long over the center channel, and two flanking anchor beams of 165 feet long on either side of the center span.

Each of the concrete beams is connected by high-tension steel tendons.

"We picked this method for a number of reasons," says Korakis. "It saved nearly $125,000, it has the least impact on the environment, and is safer for construction workers."

The only other U.S. bridge constructed using this method spans the Iowa River and is considered a landmark, Korakis said. It was built in the mid 1990s and, at the time, was the longest free-cantilever bridge in the country.

Other work that will be done on the bridge during the next few months includes:

• Completing the north half of the new relief bridge.

• Installing drill shaft foundations, pier footings, columns and caps throughout the length of the new main channel bridge.

• Constructing a new road west of the relief bridge.

• Completing retaining walls on the west end of the main channel bridge and east and west ends of the new relief bridge.

• Shifting traffic onto the relief bridge and newly constructed road.

• Demolishing boat ramps and beginning new ones.

During construction, traffic is often reduced to a single lane, and delays can be lengthy. Occasionally bridge traffic stops, but those periods are usually confined to 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., Korakis said.

Work to replace the 50-year-old drawbridge began a year ago. Construction on the new high-span bridge is on schedule, Korakis said, and should be complete by the spring of 2010.

The construction cost is covered by Penny for Pinellas funds and a federal grant. Because the bridge is considered a main evacuation route, FEMA requirements forced the high-span design.

The new bridge, which is expected to last about 75 years, will rise 75 feet over the channel. Features will include 12-foot travel lanes in each direction, 8-foot sidewalks, and 10-foot-wide shoulders with designated 5-foot bicycle lanes.

Bridge construction details, traffic schedules and a live Web cam can be viewed on the bridge Web site:

Belleair bridge beams to arrive by barge 03/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2008 3:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'


    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]
  2. Here's what happened when 30 high school sophomores gave up their phones for a day


    LUTZ — They were everywhere at Steinbrenner High School. Teens with panic-stricken faces, furiously slapping one thigh, then the other.

    Grace Hayes, 15, left, and Kai'Rey Lewis, 15, talk and text friends after having a discussion about smartphone technology in Tiffany Southwell's English Literature class at Steinbrenner High last week. Southwell asked theme to give up their phones for a day and write about it. For Lewis, the ride home that day "was the longest bus ride in my life." [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Cuban media treats visit by Tampa City Council as historic event


    TAMPA — Delegations of one kind or another have been traveling from Tampa to Cuba for years, even before President Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations between the two countries in December 2014.

    A Tampa delegation to Cuba this week was featured prominently in reports by the state-run media in Cuba, including Granma. From left are Tampa City Council vice chair Harry Cohen, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice, Tampa philanthropist David Straz and Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin.
  4. As the curtain rises on the Straz Center's biggest shows, the spotlight is on parking


    TAMPA — The Broadway Series, the most lucrative shows of the year for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, start this week, and this year the center wants all the drama to take place on stage, not during the drive to the theater.

    With downtown Tampa getting busier at night and on weekends, city officials and administrators from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts have been working on ways to unsnarl traffic and help visitors find parking when there are lots of events at the same time. CHRIS ZUPPA   |   Times (2009)

  5. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
Casimar Naiboa pleads for help to capture the killer of his son, Anthony Naiboa. Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed near 15th Street N. and E. Frierson Avenue after getting off the wrong bus in Seminole Heights. A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.