Last girder removed from US 19 bridge overpass - WFLA News Channel 8

Last girder removed from US 19 bridge overpass

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Crews had removed two of the four girders from the old U.S. 19 overpass. Crews had removed two of the four girders from the old U.S. 19 overpass.
Crews had removed two of the four girders from the old U.S. 19 overpass as of Wednesday morning. Crews had removed two of the four girders from the old U.S. 19 overpass as of Wednesday morning.
Traffic was backed up on U.S. 19 Wednesday morning. Traffic was backed up on U.S. 19 Wednesday morning.
Crews had removed this girder early Wednesday morning. Crews had removed this girder early Wednesday morning.
CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) -

All four girders have been removed from the old Highway 19 bridge over Gulf to Bay Boulevard in Clearwater. Work is now concentrated on clean up and wiring temporary signal lights.

Traffic has been snarled on Gulf to Bay Boulevard for the past day and a half, all because of a massive steel beam.

A girder sagged on Tuesday, causing damage to trucks below when they passed underneath. Department of Transportation officials say the problem got worse on Wednesday.

The old overpass was set to be removed next week, but demolition sped up after the incident. Until the problem is fixed, Gulf to Bay is shut down under the U.S. 19 overpass. Traffic was diverted while the beams were removed.

"It is a precarious and a challenging situation,” said FDOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.

Engineers say damaged girder sagged even lower towards the ground on Wednesday. It was supposed to be the last to go, but Wednesday afternoon, contractors decided to change their plans and remove it immediately.

"They changed the plan. They want to go ahead and get the damaged one now,” said Carson. “We have the have the damaged girder to get out and right now the contractor wants to get that out next so they’re worried about the stability of it.”

The giant steel beam is more around 200 feet long and weighs 100 tons. Removing it was not easy. It required two cranes that had to work in sync. They carefully lifted the steel beam in tandem and then slowly moved it out of the way.

Officials say it takes about four to five hours to remove each beam. The sagging beam was removed at around 5:00 p.m., and now the final beam came out a few hours later.

Officials are still trying to figure out what caused the problem in the first place.

“This overpass was just inspected back in March… we had no issues with it. We have inspectors out here all the time,” said Carson.

They believe the demolition of the overpass may have played a role, but FDOT engineers from the main office in Tallahassee are going to investigate.

Peter Bernard contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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