On June 26, Governor Rick Scott kicked off the largest transportation infrastructure project in Northwest Florida, the $398.5 million Pensacola Bay Bridge replacement project. This transportation initiative includes construction of a new bridge on U.S. 98 (State Road 30) across Pensacola Bay. U.S. 98 is an important east-west corridor and a primary hurricane evacuation route for the Panhandle along the Gulf Coast. The current Pensacola Bay Bridge, also known as the Senator Philip D. Beall, Sr. Memorial Bridge, was constructed in 1960 and is nearing the end of its life span. With only four travel lanes and daily traffic counts of approximately 55,000, traffic congestion is a problem. In addition, a lack of auxiliary lanes makes it difficult to respond to traffic incidents or remove disabled vehicles after a collision or breakdown.
Plans call for the new Pensacola Bay Bridge to be constructed parallel, and immediately, west of the existing bridge. The new bridge will be two separate structures, one for eastbound traffic and the other for westbound.
Each of the new bridges will accommodate:
- Three, 12-foot travel lanes.
- Ten-foot inside and outside shoulders.
- A 10-foot multi-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Architectural elements will include a center arch that will add distinction to the bridge. Shaded observation points along the multi-use path will provide opportunities to rest and reflect, as well as enjoy panoramic vistas of Pensacola Bay. Recreational facilities on both shores of Pensacola Bay will feature boat launches, picnic areas, and free parking. The fishing pier on the Pensacola side of the bay will remain in place once the new bridge is complete. With a center span that provides 65-feet of vertical clearance, the new bridge will be approximately 15-feet taller than the current structure. The horizontal clearance for marine traffic will be increased from 125 to 150-feet.
When complete, the project will increase safety and improve traffic flow for the many who currently travel across the bridge each day.