SARASOTA -- The Florida Department of Transportation is warning motorists about the emergency bridge repairs that will continue to affect the southbound lanes at Interstate 75 and the Ponce de León overpass in the overnight hours this weekend.
Damage to the causeway happened Wednesday, when a dump truck heading south on I-75 -- with the dump bed improperly left in the upright position -- struck the north sidewall of the overpass. The accident caused the southbound lanes to close nearly 13 hours as engineers worked to assure it was safe to reopened and secured the damaged, outside beam.
The overpass will remain closed to traffic until the repair work can be completed in about seven to 10 days.
"It is closed because it allows the work to greatly accelerate and it also makes a safer work environment for the work crews," FDOT spokeswoman Debbie Tower said.
Crews removed the damaged beam Thursday overnight and will set a new beam overnight.
Safety was not a concern when the road reopened Friday morning, with the other six beams remaining in tact.
"That is truly the beauty of civil engineering," Tower said. "The integrity of these structures is really remarkable."
Motorists should expect southbound interstate lanes to close at 8 p.m. Friday and reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday.
A detour is required:
Southbound traffic will exit I-75 at River Road (Exit 191) and travel west on River Road to southbound US 41.
Motorists will proceed approximately nine miles to Sumter Boulevard, turn east and continue to the southbound entrance ramp onto I-75 (Exit 182).
Crews will be pouring a new deck on the Ponce de León overpass Sunday overnight. Work will be done from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and requires a detour for southbound interstate traffic. Emergency vehicles will still be able to get across if needed.
Other work preparing for and following up these activities may require periodic nighttime southbound lane closures from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., FDOT officials said.