POLL/PHOTOS: Islanders have another look at bridge design

City hosts last Smokehouse Bay Bridge workshop before council vote

Article Highlights

  • Even though the City Council will make the actual decision of which design to utilize, the city has worked tirelessly to solicit citizen feedback.
  • The span that will eventually cross Smokehouse Bay, carrying Collier Blvd. over the narrow waterway beneath, may well be the world’s longest bridge.
  • Joel reiterated he did not want the design groups to break out the costs at this point, but is looking for input based on the features desired and the design preferences of islanders.

Which is your favorite Smokehouse Bay Bridge design

See the results »

View previous polls »

During the city’s workshop Monday, Karen and Bob Wenz of Marco Island speak with Dwayne Kile and Bill Waddill, of the Lochner team, about how the Smokehouse Bay Bridge can be altered.

Photo by LANCE SHEARER, Special to the Eagle

During the city’s workshop Monday, Karen and Bob Wenz of Marco Island speak with Dwayne Kile and Bill Waddill, of the Lochner team, about how the Smokehouse Bay Bridge can be altered.

Smokehouse Bay Bridge workshop.

Photo by LANCE SHEARER, Special to the Eagle

Smokehouse Bay Bridge workshop.

The span that will eventually cross Smokehouse Bay, carrying Collier Blvd. over the narrow waterway beneath, may well be the world’s longest bridge.

It’s not the length of the bridge, it’s the length of the discussion over which design and which firm to choose. The City of Marco Island hosted one more workshop Monday evening at the community room inside the police station to let residents see the proposals submitted by the five groups of engineering firms, and hear directly from the architects their visions for the project.

In a possible indication of bridge fatigue, only a handful of Islanders turned out, heavily outnumbered by the platoon of design firm representatives. Even though the City Council will make the actual decision of which design to utilize, the city has worked tirelessly to solicit citizen feedback.

“We’ve had 14 workshops on this, and received over 600 comments,” said Marco’s public works director Rony Joel. In contrast to a turnout in the single digits at Monday’s event, approximately 100 people turned out in June for Orion Bank’s “In the Round” presentation on the issue, illustrating the beneficial effect an open bar can have on public participation in the democratic process.

This was the last workshop held for public input before the bridge proposals are presented to City Council on Sept. 21.

The Islanders who did show up Monday appeared to have given serious thought to the question of which bridge design is best suited to carry Marco Island into the decades to come.

“What I have done is look at the information presented evaluating not only esthetics but functionality,“ said island resident Tony Carro, who says his work as a pilot for Federal Express has prevented him from attending previous sessions on the bridge.

“You can’t make a decision just based on looks.”

Carro says he is leaning toward the proposal from the Lochner group, which has the widest horizontal opening for boats, and nice vertical clearance.

“The less constriction, the safer it is. If I could find whoever designed that (current) bridge, he wouldn’t be alive. I wish more people would attend these meetings, and not vote on a picture.”

Civic activist Amadeo Petricca said he wants to break out the cost of the bridge itself from the surrounding features.

“I look at it being a taxpayer and fiscally responsible individual. What is the cost of the bridge only? Any of the other amenities, I said ‘none of the above.’ That should be part of Veterans’ Park, and the cost should be put to a referendum. Whatever they want to do, taxpayers have to vote on. There’s no doubt in my mind, they want to do too much too fast.”

The bay walk and additional amenities included in the bridge proposals, he said, are “not for Islanders. It’s for vacationers, to encourage them to come here.”

Petricca added that after reviewing the various proposals, he favored the design by TY Lin as the best replacement for the current span.

Joel reiterated he did not want the design groups to break out the costs at this point, but is looking for input based on the features desired and the design preferences of islanders.

“The City Council will have that information. The costs are all about the same,” he said.

Part-time island residents Doug and Jennifer Frye brought their two children, Cameron, seven, and Cole, five, along with them to the workshop. Like many of the Islanders most concerned with the project, the location of their home makes it necessary for them to pass underneath the bridge to access the Gulf by boat.

“Anyone who lives on that side, it affects your property values, or if you want a bigger boat,” said Jennifer Frye. “Esthetically, we like the TBE bridge. We would choose Lochner for the clearance.”

Marco residents can learn more about the Smokehouse Bay Bridge project online by going to the city’s Web site, cityofmarcoisland.com. A link on the city’s home page lets Web-surfers see each of the five groups’ presentations, and vote for their favorite.

“Once the council decides on a design, we’ll work with the community further on the details and the features,” said Joel. “This is the beginning.”

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 9

happy6 writes:

good Lord....what a mess....we do not need to spend any "joel"dollars to build a new bridge....all tax millages have gone up on the island...we have a 900k surplus that's sitting somewhere.(in joel's pocket) and we are the only city in the country that wants to build a designer bridge over a freakin' canal. a prerequisite should be you hire every unemployed person on the island to work on the bridge....TARP.

otherwise...forget the bridge...for now...we don't need it....maybe the esplanade and wynn dixie do but the residents don't need it.

lauralbi1 writes:

Shadow: With all due respect, the need for a new bridge has been documented by Engineers. If you look underneath the bridge, even a novice such as yourself could see it needs to be replaced !! I am not addressing the design, merely the structural integrity (and lack of same) of the bridge.
Ed Issler

u2cane writes:

I would like to see the actual costs for the bridge designs to be included with the article. From my understanding, some of these designer bridges that you are seeing have expensive add ons that aren't needed. Some of these nice features that the bridge designers have will require purchasing additional land therefore driving the actual cost up. I would like to see the financial numbers disclosed for each design before the board makes a decision.

deltarome writes:

It is lovely that we can ask designers to create "art" to add value to Esplanade's underutilized project.
What we need and afford is a "bridge", not another park, fishing pier, teenage hangout, graffiti magnet, budget buster and controversy.
The construction will lead to extended traffic interruption. Why not find a solution that will restore "bridge" function at the lowest price and fastest schedule???

happy6 writes:

ed...i agree with you for once....the bridge is in need of repair i guess...have not really looked under it like you apparently have so i'll take your word for it...point here is a bridge is one thing a monument or edifice is quite another...we just don't need to endure more tax dollars spent on anything right now...and certainly not a "tiffany" bridge that only does one thing...make the designer and engineers more money...will not make our lives any better as far as i can see.

condoseller writes:

I don't think Mr. Joel should prevent anyone from seeing the cost estimates. Those documents must be public information and he should present them to Mr. Petricca or anyone else who asks to see them. I think Mr. Petricca has proven that his review of City financial information is very beneficial to the City and would be useful to City Councilors when they discuss this matter. Mr. Joel foolsihly displays his arrogance again.

happy6 writes:

a bridge design:
sky
XXXXX--------XXXXXXXX__road________
XXXXX water XXXXXXXX

cars go over it////boats go under it...

jimbo46marco writes:

I question the urgency but of the designs offered the simple structures have more appeal than the "wow factor". In due time the wow factors will require more maintainence and are a major distraction to the natural beauty and the general build out scheme present on most of Marco. Of the two, the one with the median seems to be the more beautiful.

katieb writes:

in response to happy6:

a bridge design:
sky
XXXXX--------XXXXXXXX__road________
XXXXX water XXXXXXXX

cars go over it////boats go under it...

shadow...LOL! That's a good one. Thanks

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features