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New Bay of St. Louis Bridge Remains on Schedule
Hundreds of Bridge Carpenters Arrive to Meet May Deadline

by Keith Burton - GulfCoastNews.com     3/12/07

When you look at the live web-cam photos of the progress of the new bridge under construction across the Bay of St. Louis in Hancock County, it would be easy to imagine that the construction crews will not meet a May 15 deadline to have two lanes of the bridge open. But that is not the case, according to company officials contacted by GCN.

Nearly 200 people with Granite Construction Co. and Archer Western Contractors are building  the $267 million U.S. 90 bridge. According to Dan Galvin, spokesman for Granite Archer Western, the combined company building the bridge, the company is confident that they will meet the deadline.

The camera shows that a considerable amount of work is still ahead, which is confirmed by Galvin, but he says that nearly 100 additional workers, mostly carpenters are arriving this week to help get the work done on time. The workers are coming from other company project sites around the country as work in those locations finish.

Granite Archer Western has had some difficulty in recruiting new workers to come to the Coast to work on the site. Galvin said housing the workers could only be accomplished by building a temporary camp. That camp is at the corner of Canal Road and I-10 in Gulfport.

"We leased the land and bought the trailers to house our workers," said Galvin. "And when we are done, it will go away."

The new bridge over the Bay of St. Louis is scheduled to be finished November 30, but the biggest deadline is May 15 when two lanes of traffic are to be open. The company has an incentive clause in their contract to get the lanes open. If they fail, they lose the incentive and can start generating a penalty of $100,000 a day.

Currently, almost all of the main pilings have been set and many of the endcaps are in place. But the bridge still needs the decking and roadbed to be formed and poured. Galvin says people can expect to see the progress over the next few weeks to increase.

The Bay of St. Louis bridge and the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge were completely destroyed by Katrina on August 29, 2005. The two bridges form the backbone of the Coast's transportation system. The loss of the Bay of St. Louis bridge has been particularly hard on the city of Pass Christian at the east end of Harrison County.

The rebuilding of the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge is also underway by a different contractor, which is to have two lanes open in November. The Biloxi bridge is critical to Biloxi's casino industry.

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