Hurricane Ivan moved northeast across Pensacola from south Baldwin County, Alabama in the early morning hours of September 15, 2004. The major hurricane carried 130 mph winds and a storm surge of 10 to 15 feet. Many area roads and bridges were damaged, most significantly the Escambia Bay Bridges of Interstate 10. The following lists some of the roads and spans affected by the storm.
Interstate 10 Bridge Closure
Storm surge toppled, or shifted out of alignment, significant segments of the Escambia Bay Bridge. The 2.5-mile crossing represents the main link between Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties and a vital cross-country route between California and Florida. Closure of the bridge required the following detours:
- Non-local commercial traffic detour: From Interstate 10 east of Pensacola take Exit 70 (Florida 285) northward to U.S. Highway 90. Truck traffic will proceed west on U.S. Highway 90, then go west on Florida 4 to U.S. Highway 29 North at Flomaton. Take U.S. 29 to Alabama 113 to access Interstate 65 southbound. Interstate 65 will carry trucks southwest to Mobile, Alabama and junction Interstate 10. Reverse the procedure for Interstate 10 eastbound
- Local commercial traffic and general public detour: From Interstate 10 east take Exit 5 (U.S. 90 Alternate) onto Nine Mile Road east. Nine Mile Road travels north of Pensacola to U.S. 90 (Scenic Highway) just west of the Escambia River. Continue from U.S. 90 Alternate east onto U.S. 90 east to junction Florida 281. At Florida 281 (Avalon Boulevard) in Pea Ridge, turn southward to rejoin Interstate 10 at Exit 22. Reverse the order for Interstate 10 westbound.
The westbound bridge was quickly repaired and reopened with one lane of traffic in each direction on October 5, 2004. Emergency work continued on the eastbound bridge until it opened on November 27, 2004 with a single lane of traffic; the westbound span then carried two lanes, but with a restriction on passing.
A January of 2005 announcement by FDOT awarded a contract to a design-build team for the construction of replacement spans. Construction commenced immediately thereafter on a new four-lane span to carry two lanes of Interstate 10 in each direction. That crossing opened on December 19, 2006, replacing both original bridges. See the Escambia Bay Bridge Guide for photos and more in depth information on the construction.
Other Roads Damaged by Hurricane Ivan
- Bob Sikes Bridge (Santa Rosa County 399)
30 feet of the bridge was destroyed in addition to the approaches. The span opened September 22, 2004 for Pensacola Beach residents only. Residents were required to have an official beach decal on their vehicle to cross.
- Navarre Beach Causeway (Santa Rosa County 399)
Significant structural damage was done to the crossing and it remained closed until November 3, 2004. Pedestrian traffic however was permitted across the span.
- U.S. 98 Pensacola Bay Bridge
The three mile long span was closed as storm surge erosion displaced the approaches. The span opened September 21, 2004 to residents and emergency crews. Fishing piers to the east of U.S. 98 were damaged beyond repair and were dismantled completely by 2011.
- Florida Toll 281 (Garcon Point Bridge)
Some structural damage was done to the two-lane span and reopening occurred on September 22, 2004. Tolls on the span were suspended to aid hurricane recovery efforts and allow emergency vehicles greater access to impacted areas. They were re-instituted in November 2004 to $3.00 per passenger vehicle.
- U.S. 98 Lillian Highway Bridge
The span was closed because of structural damage on the Alabama side of Perdido Bay and flooding on the Escambia County side. As of October 5, 2004, all of U.S. 98 between the Alabama state line and Bay County was opened to traffic. Work to restore the highway to four lanes between Fort Walton Beach and Destin took another 120 days.
- U.S. 90 Escambia River causeway
Hurricane debris and damage rendered the eastbound carriageway of U.S. 90 impassable. The westbound direction accommodated one lane of traffic in each direction until closure and repairs on September 21 and 22, 2004 saw the four-lane causeway completely reopened.
- Florida 292 Perdido Key Bridge / Perdido Key Road
The span and roadway was closed due to flooding and structural damage and only open to emergency personnel. Shuttle service was made available for area residents. Repair work on the highway continued until late January 2005.
- Florida 196 (Bayfront Parkway)
The eastbound side of the divided highway was washed out by storm surge. Reconstruction of the roadway was completed by the end of December 2004. Rep. Holly Benson, R-Pensacola touted opening Florida 196 as a two-lane facility with bike paths, but she could not garner enough support and the roadway reopened as a four-lane facility.
- Main Street (Florida 196)
Flooding and debris covered the downtown area thoroughfare.
- Florida 291 (Davis Highway)
Debris and downed power lines down on the road. The highway was reopened on 09-17-04.
- U.S. 98 in Santa Rosa County
U.S. 98 from the Okaloosa County line to Gulf Breeze was reopened as of 09-17-04.
- Florida 87
State Road 87 reopened on 09-17-04.
Access to Navarre Beach, Pensacola Beach, and Perdido Key was prohibited. After clean-up was completed, FDOT expanded the southern terminus with U.S. 98 to include a new intersection midway between the diagonal ramps.