Panama City Beach – When the contractors tear it down over the following weeks, the only thing left of the old DuPont Bridge will be a few artificial reefs. State Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, announced Wednesday the Florida Department of Transportation will move two additional stands of the old DuPont Bridge 9 miles offshore, toward the western end of the county, and turn them into an artificial reef. According to Patronis, one truss span should be disposed of about Thanksgiving and the other the first week of December. The old DuPont Bridge, which was slated for demolition about three years ago because of safety reasons, has been used by local residents and tourists alike as a fishing pier.
Before dismantling of the bridge began, it had five truss spans. One was transported into the gulf the last week of October. Of the remaining sections, two are viable to sink, officials said. The other spans will be demolished. Bay County officials have been trying to convince the FDOT to give them permission to get rid of all the remnants of the bridge. “We’re very happy that the FDOT worked with Bay Country to make it possible,” Bay County Commissioner Bill Dozier said. Turning the spans into reefs will allow more opportunities for fishing, diving and other recreational opportunities that attract tourists. “Being such an active dive and fishing community, we should create more habitat for our gulf species,” Patronis said. “Both of these new structures will be a huge asset.” According to Patronis, the reefs will be accessible to divers and fishermen as if they were state parks.