Weakened Dennis Caused Little Damage to Gulf Coast

Mon July 18, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Jeff Cronin

Those responsible for maintaining the roadways of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle breathed a collective sigh of relief last week after assessing the sparse damage caused by Hurricane Dennis July 10.

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) spokesman Tommie Speights said crews have spotted “very little” damage to the roadways in District 3.

Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) crews were busy inspecting roadways and several hundred bridges mainly in the southwest quarter of the state, said spokesman Tony Harris.

By July 12, inspectors had found no bridge damage and only two roadways that required any work. Harris said ALDOT will issue two emergency contracts for shoulder repairs on rural two-lane highways. The jobs were to start within a week.

There was no damage to major Alabama Highways.

Harris said all of the clean-up, such as removing sand and debris from roadways, will be completed in-house.

Before Hurricane Dennis hit, ALDOT crews dammed up one of the major entry points into downtown — the Bankhead Tunnel, which takes U.S. 98 under the Mobile River.

Constructed in the 1940s, Harris said the tunnel is dammed anytime forecasters predict a tidal surge or hurricane to prevent structural damage from flooding. The sand and sandbag dam was in place by 1 p.m. July 9 and was removed by the morning rush hour July 11. CEG