MARCO ISLAND — The straight and narrow path to get to and from Marco Island was made a little wider Wednesday.
With construction on a new parallel section of the Jolley Bridge nearing an end, all lanes of traffic opened on the new and existing bridge.
The Jolley Bridge, which has been under construction since January 2010, now has an enhanced new bridge adjacent to the recently-renovated existing bridge to improve traffic flow and capacity for Marco Island – where standstill traffic can be the norm during tourist season.
It will be a soft opening for the new-look Jolley Bridge as crews continue to complete construction.
“There will be rolling lane closures,” says Debbie Tower, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation, as crews continue work to stripe the bridge and finish landscaping and irrigation projects. The lane closures, she said, will primarily happen at night or during times of light traffic.
“The original plan was to open the roadway on the last day of the project,” Tower said, adding the project is expected to be completed on time in the middle to end of October.
However, Tower said the final weeks of the construction can be done “efficiently and safely” with lanes open to the public most of the day.
The $25.5 million project to expand the Jolley Bridge was funded with federal stimulus money as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The new bridge offers an additional two-lane span with 12-foot lanes, emergency shoulders an either side of the lanes, and an 8-foot bike and walking path protected from automobile traffic by a barrier. The new bridge will also include street lights.
FIGG/Johnson Brothers was contracted as the design-build team.
Lanes on the new Jolley Bridge were partially opened this summer when crews worked on the existing bridge. However, Wednesday will mark the first time all four lanes are open to traffic.