Work on Northwest Florida Bridge Delayed

The construction of a new bridge in Northwest Florida has slowed down because of failed drug tests and the death of an employee.

Last week, three employees of Granite Construction were fired after they refused drug testing. Another 18 tested positive for drugs and are off the bridge job until they can be re-tested.

Twenty-six workers initially tested positive, but eight went back to work after producing valid prescriptions.

Also, last Saturday Richard James of Fountain died when he fell nearly 90 feet. A company spokesman said James had tested negative for drugs.

The $81.5 million bridge is supposed to replace the existing span on U.S. 98 that links Panama City and Panama City Beach.

Work in the section where the Granite employee died has been halted. The company and the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the incident.