MARCO ISLAND — Marco and Florida Department of Transportation officials were able to bridge the gap when it came to safety and aesthetic issues the city originally had with the state’s design plan for the new Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge span.
Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Milk said the primary concerns that he and members of the city’s beautification committee had included being able to enjoy the water view easily from the bridge given a high railing; vehicle access near the Marco Island Yacht Club, which may cause safety concerns for pedestrians at the future linear park the city plans to construct, and beach access on the southeast side of the bridge.
Johnny Limbaugh, director of FDOT’s District 1, which includes Lee and Collier counties, said most of Marco’s issues could be resolved.
“We received the concerns and we’re fortunate the contractor is willing to work with us,” Limbaugh said.
Johnson Brothers and FIGG were awarded the stimulus contract to construct the additional two-lane span in September. The design-build team entered the lowest bid to construct the new span, which will run parallel to, and about 20 feet west of, the existing span. The $25.5 million bid was the only bid under the total budget of $28.3 million in available federal stimulus money.
Construction of the new span, which will carry southbound traffic, is anticipated to begin mid-January and be complete in November 2011.
FDOT District 1 spokeswoman Debbie Tower said fortunately two out of the three questions were answered with an affirmative “it can be done.” The beach access on the southeast side of the bridge has been resolved by not constructing the originally proposed guard rail and retention wall there, she reported. Furthermore, there will be the ability for vehicles to turn around in a median without having to go over the bridge, but there will be no parking lot near the Marco Island Yacht Club. This change will allow room for Marco’s linear park and will also increase pedestrian safety there.
The only thing that could not be changed was the height of the railing on the bridge, which Marco’s beautification committee hoped could be adjusted to allow easy viewing while driving across the new span.
Tower said it was a safety versus aesthetic issue.
Milk said it was just one of those standard safety features that couldn’t be adjusted. He added that he was pleased with the final outcome after negotiations with FDOT.
Tower said the savings from removing a guard rail and retention wall from the plan will be put toward additional landscaping improvements, which Limbaugh estimated would cost about $300,000.
“After we’re done with our job, we’ll have a lease agreement for you (the city) to come in to make additional improvements,” Limbaugh said.
Councilman Ted Forcht questioned if a fishing pier could be added at any point because he thought a lot of people would be interested in one.
Limbaugh replied that the fishing piers were estimated to cost $1.2 million and that is over the allotted budget.
“We could find a way to do the fishing piers between now and replacement of the other span.”
Features of the bridge include a viewing deck on the side for pedestrians.
Councilman Wayne Waldack suggested being able to rename the bridge.
An open house informational meeting is scheduled 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Jan. 13, at the United Church of Marco Island on Barfield Drive to allow people to see what the bridge looks like and review the construction schedule.
Hernando Bridge emergency repair
Public Works Director Rony Joel said earlier assessments appeared to make it feasible to repair the Hernando Bridge leading to the Tigertail area in 2011, but reviews of the deterioration since then have made immediate repairs necessary.
“Continuing to use that bridge will continue to deteriorate the seawall support that is failing,” Joel said.
The bridge repair would be paid for by savings from other bridge projects coming in under budget, he reported.
There is a secondary bridge access to that Tigertail area so bridge closure will not prohibit access, Joel said.
Replacing the bridge’s slabs and approach would cost about $1 million and offer a 75-year lifespan. Repairing the bridge costs about $440,000, including engineering and seawall repair, and would extend the bridge’s life by about 15 years, he added.
TY Lin International estimated the cost to repair the bridge is $270,000 and the seawall costs $270,000.
Vice Chairman Frank Recker questioned why the needed repairs weren’t seen in the report of the bridge’s status about two years ago.
Joel admitted the extent of the problems were not adequately gauged.
The dual span Smokehouse Bay Bridge replacement and minor work on the West Winterberry Bridge, which will need to be evaluated this year and action be taken in 2014, are the only other bridges that need work.
“ ... Then we’ll have addressed all 15 bridges on the Island,” Joel said.
“I hate to be a smart Aleck about this whole thing, but if my seawall looked like this I’d get a ticket,” Forcht said.
Waldack said replacing the bridge would be cheaper in the long run than repairing it.
There is more than $1.2 million in unspent bridge repair funds, City Manager Steve Thompson reported.
Council voted to repair the bridge (6-0).