County Bridge Project Expected to Help Accommodate Eastern's New Coast Guard Contract

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Local business leaders are eagerly waiting for Eastern Shipbuilding to begin work on those new cutters for the U.S. Coast Guard.
County officials are close to finalizing plans to replace a small bridge near the Allanton shipyard that will help accommodate the new work.
The bridge on Highway 2297 in Bay County is officially over the hill.
"These two box culverts were constructed in 1965," said Keith Bryant, Bay Co. Public Works Director.
Thanks to a company down the road, at about 50 years old, this bridge is about to see a much larger work load.
"The bridge is really the primary access for the Sandy Creek community and Eastern Shipbuilding," said Bryant.
As you may remember, back in September the Eastern Shipbuilding Company was awarded a $10 billion contract to build ships for the Coast Guard. 
They aren't expecting to begin building ships for another two years, which gives the county time to replace the old bridge.
"It's a great project with really good timing with Eastern," said Bryant.
The county started this project a couple years ago. They funded the design and permitting, but they got some help from a grant for the next phase.
"The DOT awarded the county a little over $8 million to find construction and inspection for the project," said Bryant.
Once construction gets underway, it will have very little impact on drivers on Highway 2297.
"We have a staged construction where will maintain the two lanes, in and out, during the entire construction so we won't disrupt Eastern and we won't disrupt the community out there," said Bryant.
So while Eastern is preparing to build Coast Guard cutters, everything else will fall right into place.
Construction on the new bridge should start early 2017 and should take about 18 months to complete.
Eastern Shipbuilding is scheduled to start work on the new Coast Guard cutters in two years. 

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