Crews this afternoon were more than halfway finished removing a series of steel girders damaged after two tractor-trailers clipped the old U.S. 19 overpass on Tuesday, forcing the closure of Gulf to Bay Boulevard in Clearwater.
Florida Department of Transportation contractors had removed two of the four girders by 8 a.m. this morning and planned this afternoon to remove the third, the one hit by the trucks, spokeswoman Kris Carson said.
Crews estimate it is taking about five hours to remove each girder, meaning the roadway could reopen as early as tonight, though it could take longer, officials say.
All traffic should be flowing again before rush hour Thursday morning, Carson said.
It appears the steel girder that was hit had sagged as investigators measured the trucks and found them to be normal in height, Carson said.
The concrete decking had recently been removed, which could have impacted the girder, but the old bridge had been inspected for safety in March, she said.
Motorists are still advised to avoid the area. Commuters can take Drew Street or Belleair Road as alternates, as well as Hillsborough Avenue to Oldsmar if coming from Tampa.
The bridge span the trucks hit has been closed to traffic since the first section of the new U.S. 19 overpass opened last month.
Stay with TBO.com for updates.