Gulf to Bay Blvd. closing causes traffic headaches - WFLA News Channel 8

Gulf to Bay Blvd. closing causes traffic headaches

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Cranes got into position Tuesday night to remove the beams Cranes got into position Tuesday night to remove the beams
Officials with Hubbard Construction hope work can be done in 30 hours Officials with Hubbard Construction hope work can be done in 30 hours
CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) - It will be a rough commute around Clearwater Wednesday, as crews work around the clock to make Gulf to Bay Blvd. safe again. 

Work to take down steel beams on an old U.S. 19 overpass at Gulf to Bay Boulevard was supposed to happen next week.  During prep work Tuesday, one of the beams twisted out of position, contorting and bending so far two trucks hit it as they drove underneath.

The contractor responsible for this project couldn't say why the beam came down.

“I don't know, until we find out for sure what went on, I can't give you any good answers, we're gonna look to do what's in the best interest of the traveling public and make sure it's safe to handle,” said Steve Plastek from Hubbard Construction.

Closing down busy Gulf to Bay Boulevard made for some frustrated drivers, who got stuck in giant traffic jams Tuesday.

“Three thirty, I left my house, and live 10 minutes from here and it took me like 35 minutes to get to school,” said student Jessica Peterson.

Lifting the estimated 110 tons of steel is a dangerous feat.

“It's gonna be a two-crane lift, which is a critical lift, and if one crane goes up too fast, then the beam becomes unstable and off level,” said experienced crane operator Michael Spare, who warned the beam could come out of its rigging.

The contractor insists that won't happen. The plan is to remove the three beams that are still in their normal place, then remove the twisted beam. All four will be cut up and hauled off.

If you depend on Gulf to Bay to get to work in the morning, you need to take an alternate route. Highway 19, on the top of the bridge, is not affected.  The road should reopen Wednesday around midnight.

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