tampabay.com

Crosstown work gets a finish date

By JEAN HELLER
Published March 15, 2005


TAMPA - Construction is expected to resume within two weeks on the elevated lanes of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway, and for the first time, officials specified a timetable for the opening of the troubled bridge.

Ralph Mervine, interim executive director of the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority, told the agency's board Monday that the structure will be completed in January 2006. Then crews will install signs, lights and overhead signals for the reversible-lane operation.

"We might have people driving on it as early as June 2006," Mervine said, "and the date for absolute completion is Aug. 14."

Sometime before the end of the month, the 175-ton yellow truss used to install roadway will be moved to the vicinity of 50th Street, and it will mark the first time in nearly a year that any work has been done on the bridge other than demolition and repairs.

The truss will first be mounted on columns 95 and 96, and once that roadbed is down, it will slide east, to be mounted on columns 96 and 97. Column 97 is the one that sank abruptly last April, taking two segments of roadway with it.

An investigation of that failure and two other problems led to the discovery that 162 of the bridge's 218 support columns need shoring up. The cost of the delays and repairs has been estimated at nearly $80-million.

"We are not ready yet to declare what the final cost will be," said Brady Sneath, the authority's chief financial officer.

Fewer columns than expected will need the most expensive repair, which involves sinking two "sister shafts" next to the main shaft. That system costs about $400,000 per column.

In other developments Monday, Ken Hartmann, a member of the authority board, said he would retire June 30 as secretary of District 7 of the Florida Department of Transportation.