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FDOT begins repairs on Ocala bridge 8 months after it re-opened

The retaining wall at the Sharpes Ferry Bridge collapsed on June 24, 2012, and this photo was taken the next morning. The wall supports the area near the road just before the bridge, and the bridge itself was not damaged.

The Florida Department of Transportation will start repairs on Monday on the Ocala Sharpes Ferry Bridge, eight months after it opened following a renovation.

According to Ocala.com, a 250-foot-long piece of the wall collapsed last June after Tropical Storm Debby. Months earlier, in April, the bridge had opened after a $8.2 million renovation.

FDOT spokesman Steve Olson said drivers will experience more traffic the first few weeks, but once construction reaches its second phase drivers may have to find a detour to get to their destinations.

“One lane of traffic will be able to use the bridge at a time. There is going to be heavy equipment in there and they’ll have to shut down a lane and then people will have to share,” Olson said. “People will be able to go westbound one time, and then wait their turn and the eastbound folks will have their turn.”

He said it’s possible that in the next three weeks the entire bridge will be shut down as cranes and other heavy equipment arrive.

“They’ve had Jersey barriers set up on either side for the traffic to get through and for safety measures so people wouldn’t go off the road,” he said.

Olson said he doesn’t believe taxpayers should be handling the cost of repairs. He said he hopes the construction will be complete by the summer.

“Sometimes in construction you run into things that you don’t plan. And we certainly hope that doesn’t happen here but you have to build in some time,” he said.

Sarah Brand edited this story online. 

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