Bridge progressing nicely

HENDERSON POINT - Granite Archer Western used a flurry of numbers and extensive tours to update local officials on the progress of the new U.S. 90 bridge over the Bay of St. Louis on Tuesday.

The bottom line, according to project director Allan Nelson, is they are "better than 50 percent complete" and on schedule to open two lanes of traffic by the May 16, 2007 deadline.

The $266.8 million project is due to be completed by Nov. 30.

"We think from what we're hearing they're on schedule," said Bay St. Louis Chief of Operations Buz Olsen.

As sunshine gave way to fog in the late morning, workers kept toiling on piledriving, deck pouring and other tasks. One lonely-looking surveyor sat on a piling in the middle of the bay with his laser equipment at his side.

Expected rain pushed back the pouring of three sections of decking until at least today, but buckets lifted concrete from land up to help form supportsbetween girders above Henderson Point.

The first of 70 sections on the eastbound lanes is complete, with two more due to be finished by the end of the week.

There are between 220 and 240 workers employed now as the work nears its peak. They are working two 12-hour shifts six days a week and Nelson said in more than 200,000 man-hours of work there has not been an accident causing a lost-time injury.

All 894 pilings for the over-water portion of the bridge have been cast and only 28 more for the high portions of the bridge need to be driven. The bridge will be about 30 feet high on its low sections, rising over the navigation channel to 85 feet.

"It's going to be a tremendous assetin the recovery," Harrison County District 3 Supervisor Marlin Ladner said. "I think it will expedite our recovery."

By the numbers

A look at some numbers in the construction of the new bridge over the Bay of St. Louis:

Cranes 17 Tugs 7

Barges About 20

Workers 220-240

Pilings in place 624 of 894

Eastbound waterline footings 19 of 26

Columns 19 of 28

Girders 60 of 376

Decking sections 1 of 70