Repairs to Brevard bridge in danger of collapsing taking longer than expected

Sykes Creek Bridge damaged by Hurricane Irma critical to beachside utilities

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – The Sykes Creek Bridge has been closed for nearly seven months, and now Cocoa's mayor is learning the bridge may be even more damaged than was originally thought.

That means stabilizing the bridge, which is teetering on the brink of catastrophe, will take longer than expected.

"This bridge very well could have collapsed," Mayor Henry Parrish said of the damages it sustained during Hurricane Irma.

Parrish expected workers to finish the repairs that have been going on since February within the next two weeks, but after speaking with crews on-site Tuesday, he now has no timeline for when the concrete piers, which were nearly washed away with eroded sand, will be fully stabilized.

The bridge on Sea Ray Drive runs parallel to Highway 528.

While it's not important for traffic, it's critical for utilities.

The 3-foot wide pipe spanning the bridge is one of only two Cocoa water pipes supplying customers beachside, including the Kennedy Space Center, Port Canaveral and two Air Force bases.

"It's very vital that it stays intact," Parrish said.

A quarter-million customers lost water when 42 water mains broke during Hurricane Irma.

The mayor said lessons are being learned about how to prepare for the next storm.

Leaders are considering putting the Sykes Creek pipe under the water, and also possibly building a new pipe along the beach via the Pineda Causeway 17 miles south. 

"One thing that you can't ever do is give a guarantee when you get hit by a hurricane. You can never give a guarantee that you won't lose water," the mayor said. "These are man-made pipes. Mother Nature usually wins."

Whenever repairs are finished, the bridge must pass an inspection before reopening.

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