Loan an option for Marco to replace ‘totally obsolete’ Smokehouse bridge

Smokehouse Bay Bridge May 14, 2009

Staff

Smokehouse Bay Bridge May 14, 2009

— Marco Island city leaders are looking for a loan to replace the dilapidated Smokehouse Bay Bridge.

The City Council discussed last week whether to use financial reserves or take out a loan to come up with the rest of the money to pay for the estimated $8.8 million replacement of the bridge on Collier Boulevard.

Borrowing money while keeping reserves high looked to be the preferred choice among most of the council members. While officials are to put the project out to bid to get a more specific cost estimate and look into loan options before council votes on the matter, this much remains certain — the bridge needs replacement soon, City Manager Jim Riviere said.

“It’s absolutely, totally obsolete by anybody’s standards,” Riviere said.

It’s unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists to use it and concrete rocks have cracked off and fallen into the water under the bridge, city officials reported.

A state inspection revealed the bridge had a structural rating of seven on a scale of one to 10, Riviere said. There are two standards, structural obsolescence and functional obsolescence. It’s functionally obsolete, he said.

T.Y. Lin International is the design engineer for the dual span Smokehouse bridge on Collier Boulevard near the Winn-Dixie.

So far, designs are preliminary with final work under way toward a goal of putting the project out to bid in about four months, Public Works Director Tim Pinter said.

The council is expected to further consider how to pay for the bridge next year, when more certain lending options and cost estimates are gathered.

Councilman Bill Trotter and Larry Magel agreed that low debt and high reserves are their goals.

“The total debt of the city, forget the utility, is $7 million, which is low by any standards,” Magel said. “Interest rates are low through 2013. I’d like to borrow as much as we can because that bridge will last 20 to 30 years.”

Reserves are relatively high at $6 million, Trotter said.

Councilman Joe Batte was the most reluctant of the seven council members to take out a loan.

“It forces council not to be able to pass low millage rates,” Batte said.

The design could be complete by December 2012, Pinter said.

Then construction would begin in April 2013 and be complete about 18 months later.

There is $3.1 million set aside for the bridge so far. Combined with a $600,000 grant, council is working on having about $5.3 million set aside by the end of 2012.

If council chose to give the voters the final say on how to pay, it likely would be by referendum in November 2012, Pinter said.

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Comments » 18

JohninMarco writes:

Let see, we are only paying the interest on the 235 million we owe for the sewers, and now we need another loan for a bridge. Looks to me that Marco has a lot in common with Wash. DC.

maharg writes:

Well, I went and looked under the bridge. There is some crumbling in the vicinity of the outer edges of the walkways that appears to be due to a deficiency in the original pour. The concrete stressed bridge span girders and supports appear to be in good shape. I am not a structural engineer but it appears a few hundred thousand could fix it. Functionally Obsolescent is a term meaning it isn't built to current dimensions and clearances. Almost everything is obsolescent in our rapidly changing society. This bridge is not Structurally Deficient. Another look needs to be taken at this project. I would like to see a public video posted outlining the dangers of merely repairing the walkways for all the citizens to see.

NobodysFool57 writes:

Burn the reserves if you must. As long as there is excess money sitting around, City staff will try to find ways to spend it. Most places impose weight restrictions and lower speed limits before replacing a bridge. This one still scores 7 out of 10 structurally. We can probably afford to wait until we get the last few bucks saved up.

marco826 writes:

Repair the bridge. These are lean times.

deltarome writes:

other than esthetics, there is no compelling reason to totally replace the bridge at this time. It can be repaired to make the walk ways safe and to replace missing or loose material under the bridge. The city should avoid further indebtedness in all its forms.

softy writes:

i just love the way some bloggers say city staff will come up with ways to spend money, they do not vote these issues like the bridge, council does! I would like to see IF a bridge is really needed, just rebuild the bridge and leave all the upgrades off the design.

RAFMARFL1 writes:

Have they considered building a parallel pedestrian/bike bridge from Jane Hitler park?
That is probably all that is obsolete.
I don't look forward to driving 20 extra miles a day for a year and a half.

captnjimbo writes:

in response to RAFMARFL1:

Have they considered building a parallel pedestrian/bike bridge from Jane Hitler park?
That is probably all that is obsolete.
I don't look forward to driving 20 extra miles a day for a year and a half.

Now that is outside the box thinking...love it.

The other thing we could do is to continue to build the reserve account and simply wait until we have the money.

PBH writes:

Have you seen the design of the bridge the city council approved to use? With its big arches extending outwards it looks totally out of place and is unlike any other bridge on the island. Interestingly, out of the 5 designs presented, this was the 4th choice of Marco Islanders in the bridge design poll. But, our city council, ignoring public opinion again, voted for it. Hope you guys like it, 'cause you're gonna be looking at it for a long time!

GFonda writes:

It IS a strange design appearance that was selected

deltarome writes:

the design approved by council was not the least expensive option. It did make Esplande owner happy as it benefitted him with walkway and allowed bigger boats to travel under bridge. Rony Joel recommended it to council and they went along.
A metal bridge in marco environment is a recipe for maintenance costs. Stick with reinforced concrete and continue supports under bridge. Use design they bought for Winterberry bridge, but only after it can't be repaired anymore.
I remember when all the panic went up about the Caxambas bridge. They repaired it and now all is fine.
Save money for "really emergency/necessary" projects like Mackel Park Building!!!

u2cane writes:

Why don't they use the same design as all the other bridges on marco? Why do we need this one to be a special bridge? If the owner of Esplanade wants it special, let them pay for it.

mahiman writes:

This bridge doesn't need replaced. Probably better than most bridges in the state. What's wrong with being a 7 of 10??? That's what my wife thinks of me.

gwiller3 writes:

The new Jolley bridge is reported to cost $25,000,000 and spans about 1600 feet, or $10,000 per lineal foot. The proposed Smokehouse bridges will each span about 80 feet. A cost of $8,800,000 has been mentioned. The two spans would cost $55,000 per foot. This difference in unit cost is not reasonable.

Jack Willer

PBH writes:

The new Jolley Bridge is 2 lanes with a sidewalk/bike path. And, don't forget it is 50 feet above the water not 10-12 feet like Smokehouse. So...when comparing costs dont figure on two spans for Smokehouse, use one. Then the cost is $110,000 per lineal foot. A bit much. I sure hope they can change the design back to a simple concrete bridge like the rest of the bridges on the Island.

OldMarcoMan writes:

Close the bridge to all commercial traffic during the upcoming season then just close it all together till we can afford to fix it. 
Council gets $36,000.00 per year (one Councilman promised to serve for free so I guess he is), furlough one employee out of each department and escrow this money till we can pay cash and build a new bridge, 
Its time for us to start paying as we go.

Seawaller writes:

I am not convinced this bridge cannot be repaired at considerably less cost. However, the designs being considered for a new bridge reveal the true motivation behind its replacement: there are those who want to continue the Disney atmosphere on Collier Blvd. as started by the myriad of streetlights installed along its route. At work here are two opposing visions of what Marco Island should be. (1) A tourist trap with all the trimmings, (2) A residential mecca with enough businesses and services to make it tourist destination as well. One only needs to examine the original height limits on buildings to see what Deltona's vision was. Now look at Cape Marco to see what we are getting. Once the Disney visionaries tax us off the Island, the Deltona dream will finally be dead.

Throat_Yogurt writes:

Great, now I'll have to drive down to newly (horribly) paved bald eagle, down San Marco, back onto Collier and now down Kendall. FML marco city council.

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