Contractors hired by Lee County Department of Transportation have begun inspecting the support beams of the Sanibel Causeway bridges after a routine inspection last fall revealed hairline cracks in the concrete.
Crews from T.Y. Lin International of Fort Myers, structural engineers, have completed inspecting C Span at the Sanibel end and have moved to the middle span. No lane closures are anticipated as crews work from the shoulder lanes weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., pinching traffic for short stretches using traffic cones and work zone signage.
"The work is expected to continue through the end of February, weather permitting," said Lee County DOT deputy director Randy Cerchie.
Workers for contractor T.Y. Lin use a bucket truck to inspect, identify and measure cracks in the Sanibel Causeway reinforced concrete support beams.
The Lee County Commission approved the contract for $161,000 with T.Y. Lin at a December meeting to conduct the inspections. Engineers are identifying, measuring and monitoring the hairline cracks, some of which previously had sealant applied to stop the progression.
"Finding cracks so soon after the bridge opened in 2007 caused us concern," Cerchie said in December. "After 2009 we put sealant on the cracks, but in 2011 we saw the cracks extended beyond the sealant."
The Florida Department of Transportation inspects all bridges in the state at least every two years with the first cracks in the causeway being discovered in 2009. Cracking is norman and caused by settling and should eventually stabilize.
"The bridge is safe," said Cerchie. "All of the concrete could fall off the (support beams) and would still stand with all of the (steel) reinforcement used in the beams."
Cerchie said Lee DOT has a bridge crew that monitors all bridges in the county on a regular basis.
Motorists going on and off the island are advised to slow down and use extra caution in the work zone.