The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) closed the Pensacola Bay Bridge due to winds from Hurricane Sally, but the bridge may have to stay closed a bit longer than expected.
Ian Satter, an FDOT public information officer, told WKRG-TV Tuesday morning that a construction barge, which had been secured, was blown loose in Pensacola Bay and hit the Pensacola Bay Bridge. The barge has since been moved and secured.
Once weather conditions improve, FDOT will send an inspection team out to look for possible damage, Satter said. FDOT will not reopen the bridge until crews have inspected the bridge and say it’s safe for drivers.
The bridge, which is part of U.S. Highway 98, connects Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, Florida. As of Tuesday afternoon, FDOT has not reported any hurricane-related closures on Interstate 10 in the Sunshine State. However, there’s potential for many more roadblocks as Sally gets closer to the coast.
Even though the eye of Hurricane Sally is still spinning offshore — about 100 miles south of Mobile, Alabama — tropical storm force winds (39 to 73 mph) have been slamming parts of the northern Gulf Coast Tuesday, and storm surge is rising. A gust of 46 mph was recorded at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Hurricane force winds will likely begin later Tuesday afternoon or early evening from just east of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to Navarre, Florida. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued a hurricane warning for this 170-mile stretch. Sally’s eye is forecast to make landfall Tuesday night or early Wednesday near Dauphin Island, Alabama, based on the latest NHC outlook posted at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday. Major flooding is possible on parts of the Gulf Coast.