• Stretch of busy downtown Orlando road closes for construction, testing

    By: Racquel Asa


    ORLANDO, Fla. - For months, Channel 9 has waited to find out what the state will do with a cracked pier supporting a new I-4 Ultimate bridge over West Colonial Drive.

    Channel 9 learned Friday that the state will do some tests on the pier and bridge Friday.

    Traffic anchor Racquel Asa found out the tests include putting construction vehicles on the bridge.

    The test will include a series of fully loaded dump trucks driving on the bridge.

    West Colonial Drive will be closed between North Hughey and North Orange avenues at 10 p.m. Friday for the tests and for three other projects on that section of the road.

    Read: Report: FDOT knew of 17 structural cracks on I-4 support beam as early as January

    In May, Channel 9 discovered, based on a heavily redacted document, that there were likely 17 cracks on the pier. Sensors have been on the pier since then.

    There are now more wires wrapped around the pier and there are numbers, highlighted in orange spray paint, assigned to each of the new wire locations.

    State officials couldn't tell Channel 9 how these sensors will gather data when trucks are driving on the bridge.

    The sensors give the state daily readings to monitor any changes to the pier.

    The tests will last up to three hours. West Colonial Drive will reopen at 6 a.m. Saturday.

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    Area business owner Josh Imel said he hopes the state and contractors can find the right solution for a pier that holds up a bridge that thousands will someday use daily.

    "If I'm (at a) dead stop and there is an accident and I'm sitting on this bridge with tons of other people, is it safe?" he said.

    In the past, the state said fixes could range from patching the cracks to building an entire new support.

    Whatever the fix, the state said the contractor is on the hook for covering the costs, and it needs to be one that will last 75 years.

    Read: Still no answers on future of I-4 bridge over Colonial Drive

    The state said it will only do one night of testing on the bridge over West Colonial Drive while other construction projects are happening there.

    A Florida Department of Transportation spokesman said it's going to take time to analyze results and develop a timetable for a fix.

    Crews will also do some paving work on West Colonial Drive as it is widened for the project.

    City crews will pour concrete for the new pedestrian bridge Friday night. It's scheduled to open next year.

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