Spanning the bay between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, Florida, the Pensacola Bay Bridge offers beautiful ocean views, modern engineering, and–sometimes–more traffic than you bargained for. At the time of this writing, the bay bridge was under construction, with part of the traffic flowing over the newly-constructed replacement bridge and the rest crossing the older section, which opened to traffic in late 1960. Once the new bridge structure is complete, plans are in place to demolish the old bridge. The project, which is expected to cost $427 million, will result in a stunning contemporary feat of contemporary engineering, spanning over 15,000 feet of the Pensacola Bay.
For many commuters, driving across the Bay Bridge is a hassle–especially for those forced to traverse it during peak traffic times. But at off-times of the day, the bridge makes a beautiful scenic drive. It’s a lovely start to a scenic cruise along the coast, particularly if you continue onto Pensacola Beach Road (Hwy 399) once you pass through Gulf Stream. Hwy 399 will take you through the Gulf Islands National Seashore, a stunning, short drive from Pensacola and a great place to stop to explore for a bit if you have time.
The Pensacola Bay Bridge is either loved or hated by locals, but for visitors, it’s a lovely spot for a morning or afternoon drive. Occasionally, events like the Pensacola Bridge to Bridge 5k shut down traffic for a time–but at other times, the bay bridge is a no-go for pedestrians. If you’re planning to drive it, you’ll need a vehicle or a motorcycle. Keep in mind that during the construction process, speed limits are a bit slower and lanes are narrower than you might expect, so take care while you cross and keep your eye on the road as well as the scenery.
The Pensacola Bay Bridge is located just off the coast of Pensacola on Highway 98; it connects Pensacola to Gulf Breeze via four lanes of traffic, and it’s easily-accessible to stunning scenic byways, beaches, and tourist attractions on both sides.
– The bridge can get fairly backed up during rush hour, so if you’re planning a relaxing drive, avoid traversing the bridge between 6-9 am and 4-7 pm.
– To complete your scenic drive, plan a stop at the Gulf Islands National Seashore on the Gulf Breeze side of the bridge–or even drive through the entire national seashore and loop back to Pensacola via Hwy 98 through Navarre.