PARRISH -- It's all about planning and logistics for a construction project such as the $32.69 million Fort Hamer Bridge.
Project manager Tom Charles ordered tons of materials in March for contractor Johnson Brothers Corp. to make the trestle, or temporary bridge.
"We are not only building a bridge, but we're building our access to the bridge at the same time," Charles said. "The bridge curves so the trestle has to curve, too."
The trestle parallels the permanent bridge just beginning to rise from the north bank of the Manatee River.
As the permanent bridge curves out over the Manatee River, the temporary bridge will lead the way until it lands on the south shore near Upper Manatee River Road.
The trestle, which will eventually be 450-feet long, has a 1-foot-by-1-foot wooden beam surface, with each 32-feet long, resting on massive steel box beams, which
are supported by piles driven into the ground.
In a perfect world, much of the bridge construction would have been done from a barge, but Manatee River is too shallow for a construction barge.
"In some places, it's only 2 or 3 feet deep," Charles said.
Engineers are employing a trestle from which a 230-ton crane handles pile driving and lifting heavy construction materials.
"It's one of the most expensive parts of the job for the contractor," Charles said.
To date, the piles for the end bent, or north anchor of the bridge, have been driven into the ground, and the first pier has been poured. Construction workers are now working on the second pier, which touches the north bank of the river.
In all, the Fort Hamer Bridge project will use 1.4 million pounds of steel, 6,558 cubic yards of concrete and 70,427 cubic yards of earth, project spokeswoman Trudy Gerena has previously said.
The bridge project will enable traffic to move freely between Lakewood Ranch and Parrish and offer a north-south alternative to Interstate 75. An estimated $9 million of improvements will be made to Fort Hamer Road and Upper Manatee River Road.
Road also to be improved
Crews have been working on Fort Hamer Road for several weeks, and will skip down to the segment at Williams Elementary School to complete work there prior to the new school year, Gerena said.
When completed in early 2017, the Fort Hamer Bridge will have two lanes for auto traffic, lighting, bike lanes, a sidewalk and turn lanes at the north and south approaches.
Fort Hamer Road and Upper Manatee River Road will be widened to 24 feet, and will also get sidewalks and bike lanes, as well as grass shoulders, and right- and left-turn lanes.
Groundbreaking was in March. By the end of this year, the contractor expects to extend the bridge about 1,000 feet into the Manatee River.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.