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Lead Paint Ups Bridge Price

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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Local officials in a Florida county were recently surprised to learn that a bridge under renovation contains unsafe levels of lead, causing them to have to fork over an extra $769,497 on the project.

The price to renovate the Navarre Beach Bridge in Santa Rosa County has increased after Environmental Protection Agency-designated action levels of lead were found in the span's paint, requiring safe removal of the lead and disposal of hazardous waste. 

On Dec. 13, 2012, county commissioners approved a $769,497 budget amendment to cover the cost of the lead abatement, bringing the total cost of the bridge work to $3.14 million.

Facebook / Diana Varela Hightower

The Navarre Beach Bridge renovation project recently increased by $769,497 after lead was discovered in the paint.

'Misinformation' About Lead

Renovation work began in October 2012, and when crews started removing the old protective sealant, they found that it contained lead.

Santa Rosa County engineer Roger Blaylock said that samples of the paint were tested and results were that 10.32 percent of the paint weight was lead and not paint material.

"When it becomes an issue like that, it requires a significant amount of testing, not just for the material but for the workers," said Blaylock. "This is a very closely monitored project."

Blaylock said that part of the monitoring includes taking blood samples of workers before, during, and after the job, according to Santa Rosa's Press Gazette.

He added that the lead came as a surprise, and the Florida Department of Transportation reported in 2006 that it had tested the span and found no lead present before turning it over to the county.

"Documentation we received from DOT last year when we started the project indicated lead had been abated on the bridge," said Blaylock. "In those documents, it described a past renovation project in which material removed had been collected, placed in 55-gallon drums and disposed of."

"We will be talking to DOT [about the misinformation provided]," Blaylock said. "I don't know if we'll go back and ask them for money."

No one from the DOT or the county was immediately available for comment.

TripAdvisor / Best Western Navarre Waterfront

The bridge was owned by the Florida DOT until 2006, when the county took it over.

Transfer of Ownership

In 2006, Santa Rosa County Commissioners agreed to take ownership of the 50-year-old bridge from the Florida DOT, along with $4 million for future maintenance.

However, the deal almost fell through because of the condition of the bridge, the Gulf Breeze News reported in May 2006. The agreement included that the bridge be in "optimum condition," which the two parties could not agree on.

At that time, it was also reported that the bridge was expected to last another 12 to 15 years.

Extended Timeline

The original contract with Structural Preservation Systems called for repairs to the bridge's fender system, replacement of the pedestrian railings, concrete spall, and crack repairs, replacement of expansion joints, and steel replacement and repair.

A representative for Structural Preservation Systems could not immediately be reached for comment on what the additional work will require.

The timeline to finish the project has been extended 60 days, but contractors are "making every effort to keep the March 1 time frame for completion," Blaylock said.

WEAR Channel 3 news, an ABC affiliate, reported in early October 2012 that repairs would cost $2.4 million, and work was expected to take about 180 days after commencing on Oct. 15.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); EPA; Hazardous waste; Lead; Lead paint abatement

Comment from Joe Isbell, (1/22/2013, 11:53 AM)

Why was this not noted in the preliminary coating survey?

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