Coupling failure closes bridge to traffic during holiday weekend

IMG_5826BY JACK SHORT – The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority closed its swing bridge briefly to road traffic and for at least 19 hours to boat traffic beginning Sunday afternoon, according to representatives from GIBA and the United States Coast Guard.

During an opening at 4:45 p.m. on May 24, the bridge tender noticed that wedges which lock the bridge into place were not operating correctly. It was later determined by GIBA maintenance that a coupling failure caused the wedges to malfunction.

Within 45 minutes, maintenance crews “ … jacked the bridge up and secured it into place so vehicular traffic could proceed safely,” according to an email from GIBA.

However, presumably because the bridge couldn’t be opened, the waterway spanned by it remained closed to boat traffic until the following day, when maintenance crews used a spare coupling to repair the bridge.

USCG representatives said they were notified, as is required in like cases, of the closure, and that they notified boaters via broadcast.

A GIBA representative said, “Our swing bridge is certainly getting tired but we will continue to do our best to keep traffic flowing smoothly and efficiently. A special thanks to the GIBA maintenance crew for their first class work!”