BY MARCY SHORTUSE - Downsizing tender houses and catwalks in competition for wider shoulders on the future swing bridge were topics of conversation that prevailed at the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority’s engineering committee meeting held on April 18.
The committee recommended approval of the bridge development report presented by Hardesty & Hanover, after lengthy discussion about cost-saving measures and making a few amendments. They also voted to allow the bridge-building company to continue on to the 60 percent phase of the design plan.
Mike Sileno, the H&H project manager, said that he had made phone calls to nine different marine contractors and asked them what their generic estimate on the swing bridge would be. He said when he finally got them to understand what he wanted, only three would respond.
H&H bid the swing bridge job at a $21 million estimate. The first contractor’s bid came in at $30 million, the second bid $21 million and the third contractor came in at right around $25 million.The three contractors asked that their estimates remain confidential.
Henri Stinson, a structural engineer for H&H, also discussed with the engineering committee the fact that the new swing bridge would be built 55 feet away from the current location of the swing bridge. This will be done so the old bridge can still function while the new bridge is being built. It will also be nine feet higher from the water.
Can the authority make do without an additional four feet on either side of the roadway? It was another discussion that the engineering committee address. Chairman Peter Strong said they could possibly eliminate $1.8 million from the budget if they were to forfeit the sidewalks on the swing bridge.
Strong recommended a catwalk be installed instead of a raised sidewalk.
Sileno said they could use a catwalk, but it would be nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing. Cooper, who originally introduced the idea of sidewalks on the swing bridge to ensure GIBA employees’ safety, said he could worth with either situation.
“I’m not trying to take away your walkway,” Strong said. “I’m just looking at cost-efficient ways to make it less expensive.”
The engineering committee asked Sileno to give them his best walkway options for next week’s board meeting.
The committee also discussed changing the plan for the tender house to go from four levels to just two levels. One of the proposed additional levels would have housed a second generator that would power the bridge if there was no electricity. This would be another way the authority could possibly save money.
H&H said they would present additional tender house options to the board next week at their April 25 meeting.
A recommendation was made to delay the planned island public workshop that was scheduled for earlier in the fall to November, in order to make sure more people were on the island to attend. The committee agreed to present that option to the board at its next general meeting on Wednesday, April 25.
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