Friday, January 21, 2011

Gasoline Tanker Explosion Disrupts KSC Traffic

A gasoline tanker explosion has severely damaged the 528 bridge over Courtenay Parkway, a major artery to Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: Zach Sutherland on web site.

A pickup truck rammed the rear of a gasoline tanker this afternoon, causing a massive explosion that could disrupt Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station traffic patterns for the next month.

Both drivers died in the accident at Highway 528 (the Beachline) where it passes over Route 3 (Courtenay Parkway). More coverage at:

Central Florida News 13

Florida Today

Route 3 is the major artery for traffic passing through the KSC south gate. Highway 528 is a major artery for traffic going to and from CCAFS as well as Port Canaveral.

For those of us who live in north Merritt Island, the public normally has only two ways to reach civilization. Route 3 under the 528 bridge is one. The other route is up through KSC out to the west and on to Titusville. Those with the appropriate security badge can enter KSC and drive east over a causeway to CCAFS, which eventually exits at the Port.

If north Merritt Island residents can't pass under the 528 bridge for the next month, we have a major problem, not to mention what it will do to the daily KSC and CCAFS traffic patterns.

UPDATE January 22, 2011 7:45 AM EST — According to Florida Today, the bridge may need to be rebuilt, closing the intersection for 30-45 days.

I called the Brevard County Sheriff's Office to find out about local traffic patterns. No vehicles will be allowed to pass under the bridge, north or south bound, until further notice. From Cape Canaveral, you can exit 528 at Banana River Drive and use Sea Ray Drive to reach Route 3 and turn northbound over the barge canal. Southbound on Route 3 under the bridge isn't going to happen any time soon, so the only other option is to head north through KSC and then west on 405 into Titusville. If you're badged for KSC/CCAFS, you can go through those bases to eventually exit near Port Canaveral.

UPDATE January 23, 2011 6:00 AM EST — Below is the latest update on traffic patterns from Florida Today:

Florida Today reports the Florida Department of Transportation will open bids today to repair the bridge and work will begin as soon as possible.

I drove both directions through the intersection yesterday. Traffic was light, so inconvenience was the major problem. It should be a different story on Monday, the first work commute day.

UPDATE January 24, 2011 7:45 AM EST — According to this morning's Florida Today:

Lane Construction has until Feb. 16 to open the overpass for traffic, said Steve Olson, DOT spokesman. Sunday afternoon, company surveyors and heavy equipment operators were working at the blackened bridge ... Lane Construction must pay damages of $50,000 per day if the Feb. 16 deadline is not met, Olson said ...

By afternoon, an excavator removed a portion of the North Courtenay Parkway median at Sea Ray Drive.

Olson said a turn lane and stop sign will be added so southbound traffic can take Sea Ray Drive eastward.

A second State Road 528 “through lane” will also be added just south of the bridge to accommodate eastbound traffic, he said.

“As the days play out and we see how traffic flows through here, we may make modifications,” Olson said.

A Florida Today photo of the 528 bridge demolition.

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