Boaters in Sarasota Bay have complained about hitting debris in the water since the new Ringling Bridge was built last year. Now officials know why. Boaters have been reporting damage to their vessels from debris in Sarasota Bay. The mystery would not have been solved without modern technology. The answer became more clear after County Environmental specialist Mike Solum says they used a variety of techniques to figure it out.
“The most sophisticated being side-scan sonar which is an amazing tool that allows us to see very clearly 3D pictures of live photos of what’s going on underwater. And then we did more traditional methods of actually putting scuba divers in the water to ground truth what we were seeing with the side-scan.”
And what they saw were large slabs of concrete and rubble piles which are descendants of the original Ringling Bridge, built in 1925 and demolished 48 years ago. Today’s technology was not able to reveal how far down into the sand the pieces go so there’s no way to know how much it would cost to remove them. Solum is working with the Coast Guard to realign channel markers and direct boaters away from the debris.
Sarasota officials have discovered the 71-year-old remains of the original Ringling Bridge at the bottom of Sarasota Bay. That causeway was demolished in 1958. They investigated the debris field after boaters complained they were running into ‘something’. Environmental specialist Mike Solum used special 3-D pictures of the ocean floor to figure out the problem.
“And who knows what technology they had back in the 1950’s to remove and then find anything that was left over. It’s kind of a pretty little spot but we don’t want anyone once we get the winter low tides to strike this so we’re going to leave a hazard buoy on it and work with the coast guard to redirect the traffic over to where they should be.”
The area is about 160 feet outside the Sarasota intra-coastal waterway, where boaters should be, so Solum says he’ll get the channel markers realigned and a warning sign installed.
Sarasota Bay’s second bridge was razed in 2004. A third bridge was built last year.
Friday, 30 June 2006 01:00