Work may resume soon on bridges of Indian River County

PHOTO BY GORDON RADFORD

Projects that dead in the water under two heavily traveled bridges spanning the Indian River Lagoon – Vero Beach’s 17th Street bridge and the Wabasso Causeway bridge – should be back on track in a couple of months, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

The 17th Street bridge project – reinforcing the beams to repair cracked, flaking concrete – had already been delayed several times since it began in 2020, mainly because more work had to be done than originally anticipated.

Then, on Oct. 22, work on both bridges stopped after the contractor, multi-million-dollar, international DBi Services Company, abruptly announced it was immediately shutting down all operations.

Since then, the Florida Department of Transportation has been furiously “seeking new contracting methods” to get the impacted projects back on track.

The good news is that soon, work may be resuming.

According to District 4 Communications Manager Guillermo Canedo, FDOT has executed a contract with its new asset maintenance contractor, Louis Berger, and maintenance work on the 17th Street Bridge is expected to restart “within the next few weeks.

“No additional scope (of work) has been identified which would lead to deviation in our planned repairs,” he added.

All the work takes place under the bridge, and it was 65 percent to 70 percent complete when the shutdown occurred.

The beam replacement is a maintenance project which, said FDOT District 4 Operations Engineer Kris Kehres, does not compromise the safety of the bridge either during the work or while the work is on hold.

The westbound work is done, and the eastbound side will be closed to traffic until the project is complete.

The Wabasso Causeway high span fencing project, too, had already been delayed before the DBi shutdown, after island residents successfully fought against the original design, saying it would obstruct the iconic river view.

When that project was halted, stanchions had already been placed on both sides of the bridge and, before they could be removed, DBi had gone belly up.

According to Kehres, “currently the FDOT is working with our asset management contractor to procure quotes for the work to remove previously installed stanchions, and for the installation of the new CalTrans railing system.

“As of today, no price quote or contractor has been selected for completion of the work. A contract is anticipated by mid-February,” Kehres said.

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