Broken Laurel Street Bridge to cost Tampa $2 million
TAMPA - Mayor Bob Buckhorn is asking the City Council to approve nearly $2 million for emergency repairs to the aging Laurel Street Bridge after state officials discovered the drawbridge no longer functions properly. Council members will consider the request Thursday. Inspectors with the Department of Transportation told the city in October that the machinery that lifts the bridge has large cracks that allowed a gear to slip out of alignment. The damage was severe enough to prevent the bridge from rising to accommodate boat traffic. In their report to the City Council, city officials say the damaged gear doesn't affect the surface of the bridge, which carries more than 5,000 cars a day.Venice-based Coastal Marine Construction Inc. won the bid to repair the bridge. It was one of two companies that applied for the job. The 86-year-old Laurel Street Bridge is one of eight drawbridges that cross the Hillsborough River between Hillsborough Avenue and Platt Street. All of them are close in age, but two — Platt Street and Columbus Drive — were recently renovated. The Laurel Street repairs will take most of the money the city has set aside for bridge repairs this year, according to the city's five-year transportation plan. The money comes from the city's surcharge on gasoline. Coastal Marine's bid calls for replacing bearings, switches and other electrical devices as well installing a new control panel and brake system. The U.S. Coast Guard requires that the city's drawbridges open to allow the passage of watercraft too tall to pass under them safely. While that can include sailboats, more recently it has included barges carrying cranes used to construct parts of the Riverwalk.
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