The wait is almost over.
The new Tom Staed Veterans Memorial Bridge is slated to open in early March in Daytona Beach. It will replace the Orange Avenue/Silver Beach Avenue bridge, a bascule bridge that was more than 60 years old, which closed June 6, 2016, and was removed to allow for construction of the new, high-rise bridge, which will be Florida’s first concrete arch bridge.
The Johnson Brothers Corp. won the contract to build the bridge. The $46 million construction project is funded by the federal government. Originally slated to open in December 2018, weather, holidays and special events created delays, pushing the completion of construction to September 2019. Other setbacks included two cranes being used that were hit by lightning.
Volusia County Engineer Tadd Kasbeer stated Johnson Brothers is being charged $8,800 per day for liquidated damages every day past the contracted completion date.
“The bridge construction, the design, all of our activities on it have been funded through a federal local agency program grant,” Mr. Kasbeer said. “Because we are getting the money from the federal government, we have a provision in our contract for liquidated damages and we have to charge it.”
Motorists needing to head to and from the beachside have had to use International Speedway Boulevard bridge, the Main Street bridge or the Seabreeze bridge.
Design elements of the new two-lane bridge include handicap accessibility, eight-foot sidewalks, fishing piers on both sides of the Halifax River, and plaques at 28 scenic overlooks, commemorating conflicts in America’s military history. The plaques will include descriptions of conflicts and outcomes; the number of killed, wounded and missing in action; a QR code linked to additional data; and a Braille plate with information.
Mr. Kasbeer serves as the primary contact for the project. “It’s going to be a unique structure. It’s not a very common style structure,” he said. “The arches are not something that are typically used very much anymore and certainly not in concrete. While a bridge across the Intracoastal is not uncommon, this style of bridge is. The driving force for us is getting it open to traffic as soon as we possibly can. They’ve only got two spans left to support the decking on the pour.”
He added, “The huge benefit (of having this bridge) is it makes it easier for the traffic for the people that live on the westside to get to the eastside and vice versa. We think this is going to add to the character of the area. We are putting in two full lanes and there also will be a shoulder area where, if a car breaks down, they can slide over and not impede traffic and then you’ll have a barrier between them and (pedestrians). It’s going to be wider overall and it’s taller.”
When the bridge opens to traffic, other components of the overall project may still need some work. With the 64-foot height of the bridge, a bridgetender will not be necessary.