When Hurricane Ivan destroyed parts of the I-10 bridge, many thought it would take months to rebuild, but the state and federal government knew something had to be done quickly to prevent millions of dollars in loss commerce.
The I-10 bridge across Escambia Bay had become a symbol of Ivan's power. Now, it has become a symbol of the Panhandle's healing.
"The last three weeks we've seen images of the 18-wheeler on this bridge. Today that symbol is replaced by trucks moving across the bridge," said Gov. Jeb Bush.
The impact of 20 foot storm surge from Hurricane Ivan knocked 58 sections off the east and westbound spans and misaligned another 66.
Federal and state officials knew they'd have to step in to get things back on track.
"The Bush Administration has given $2 million as a down payment for repairs on the bridge. We cleared road blocks and got the latest technology to reopen the bridge in 24 days," said Norm Mineta, Secretary for the Federal Department of Transportation.
Contractors worked 24 hour days, completing the westbound span ahead of the aggressive schedule set for them by the government.
"Seventy-five people were out here last night to place the last slab of the span around 11 o'clock. You should have seen them and heard them cheering and applauding when we drove the first truck over it," said Contractor Scott Castles.
These contractors are not alone. Thousands of commuters and truckers are also cheering now that their life is back on track.
Castles says they hope to have the eastbound span of the I-10 bridge reopen by the middle of December.