Major Ken Howes
Lt. Harry Mofield
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TALLAHASSEE - As a result of meetings held today with the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Highway Patrol has developed criteria for traffic control during hazardous driving conditions and ultimate determinations of Bridge closure related to fog.
Effective today, a trooper will be assigned to patrol the Sunshine Skyway bridge on a round-the-clock basis. When dense fog reduces visibility on the roadway creating hazardous driving conditions, FHP will work with DOT to reduce speed limits by utilizing variable message warning signs and enhancing FHP visibility and enforcement. When driving conditions further deteriorate to such an extent that visibility becomes less than one-quarter mile (<1320 feet), the Bridge zone trooper will notify the shift commander for a possible Bridge closure. The shift commander will set in motion necessary actions to close the bridge, which include:
1) Notification to DOT to set up barricades and variable message sign boards on roads leading to Bridge entrances,
2) Notification to local law enforcement who will assist with diverted traffic,
3) Notification to the highway information network (media), and
4) Augment patrol coverage of the Bridge to allow reopening as soon as practicable.
DOT officials are in the midst of a Skyway Bridge study centered around warning and control functions for high wind alerts. Initial plans in the consultant study call for a redesign and redesignation of control from DOT to FHP along with enhancements of existing warning technology. In preliminary discussions with DOT today, consideration will be given to expanding the study to include other environmental factors, such as protocol for fog, hazardous chemical spills, etc.