Originally created 11/29/00

Bridge work nears halfway point



BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A bridge contractor is nearing the halfway point of completion of the center span of a new Sidney Lanier Bridge over the Brunswick River.

Although there is a little daylight left, the gap is nearly closed between the tallest support pillar of the northern approaches and the span held up by the north tower, where half the center span is held in place by huge cables.

"We're building the last segment now," said Brian West, project manager for Recchi-GLF, the contractor building the bridge.

By mid-December workers will disassemble the form structures used on the north tower and transfer them to the south tower to build a matching structure, Mr. West said.

Mr. West said the two spans will meet over the middle of the Brunswick shipping channel in July, and all work should be complete by September, the Georgia Department of Transportation's date for opening the bridge.

The collapse of one of those forms caused a sixth-month delay last year from the Georgia Department of Transportation's original opening date of Jan. 1. In August, Recchi-GLF asked for a second delay until Sept. 21, 2001. The DOT agreed but with stiff daily penalties if that deadline is missed.

Two brothers fishing in a canal just downstream from the bridge said they are ready for the new span that will allow larger ships into Brunswick's harbor.

Harry and Donald Spaulding said larger ships with more cargo will mean more work for everyone whose job is connected with the port.

The $108 million bridge will be 7,776 feet, 6 inches long and will have clearances 185 feet high and 400 feet wide for ships. The current bridge, which will be removed, has clearances 139 feet high and 250 feet wide.