Guest Commentary: Hidden agenda on the Smokehouse Bay Bridge?

Is there a hidden agenda on Marco Island’s Smokehouse Bay Bridge? I’ve done the research, but if I’m proven wrong, I’ll gladly retract my statements. The last time any repairs, other than cosmetic, were done was 2007. We’ve had study after study done on the bridge, and they all indicate Health Index of 98.1, indicating that the deck, superstructure and substructure are all in good condition, with some minor problems (refer to: www.ledgerdata.com/bridges/collier/n-collier-blvd-nbsmokehouse-bay-030209/#nbidetail).

In 2009, we spent over $100,000 for preliminary designs; spent another $2 million the last couple of years for other failed designs. Assigned Tim Pinter to obtain detailed costs for repairs; gave Cardno TBE another $95,000 to create bid package for design-repairs. Next step, needed $150,000 to obtain engineering study to determine repair costs. Pinter also produced his departmental estimates for the repairs, which was tabled without discussion by City Council. We’ve talked about this for at least five years, spent about $3 million, and accomplished nothing. The repairs could have been made for far less, and much sooner, than the time and money we’ve wasted in the process to date. Let’s quit beating Pinter up and put together a reasonable plan.

So, instead of just complaining, I thought it would be good to propose some solutions:

- Request ‘design-build-not to exceed’ bids for repairs to the bridge.

- Request another ‘design-build-not to exceed’ bid for replacement of the bridge.

- As they say, the devil’s in the detail so we must comprehensively include detailed, specific features that are to be included in these bids.

- The received bids must , to be considered, include costs for all the work that needs to be done, including lighting, landscaping, sea walls, etc.

- Eliminate all the fluff and extras that were added in an attempt to get the price upwards of $12 million in hopes of qualifying for so called ‘Tiger grants.’ And any superfluous things that are not necessary. Let’s go for a strictly ‘needs based’ approach.

- Think outside the box. If guard rails are a big concern, they could be replaced without replacing the bridge. If sidewalks are a big concern, side walk spans, independent of replacing the bridge, can be constructed alongside at a greatly reduced price.

- Consider all the impacts of the new bridge. A bridge that is raised higher than the current one will impact speed limits, intersections and businesses, churches, etc. that are in near proximity, due to grading requirements. What are the fill requirements for the increased height? What are the costs of conforming electric, cable, water lines, etc. to the new height of the new bridge? What are the environmental impacts? And all the thousand other considerations of the new bridge.

- Make a fair comparison, and bring the results of such comparison to the taxpayers at referendum.

Replacing the bridge will have a huge impact on our already staggering debt. The costs for this will not only be borne by us, our children, and our grandchildren, but for generations to come.

No matter what the costs are, or how many bids the city receives, we must have bid estimates for both repairing and for replacing the bridge, to make a reasonable comparison. And, if history of the controversy over the bridge is any measure, we will need to make some repairs to the bridge in the interim between now and the time construction of the replacement bridge can commence.

To an extent, I believe in the old adage that ‘if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’

If you agree with the points made in this article, please email the City Council at ‘council@marcocitycouncil.com’, and make your voice heard at City Council meetings.

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Comments » 13

ajm3s writes:

I believe the health index specifically for Smokehouse Bay bridge is 80.4

http://www.ledgerdata.com/bridges/col...

lauralbi1 writes:

Mr. Harris: If you follow the bridge epic, you would know that raising the bridge is not possible due to slope limitations and the effect this would have on adjoining lots. I think AJM3 has clarified your error as there is no way that this bridge could have a 98 plus rating.
I know at one time there was talk of having a walkway from Veteran's Park to the Esplanade. This is actually in the Master Plan. But I guess that was dropped also due to cost and politics.
The bridge needs to be replaced. But it does not have to be a super structure. Every time I drive under the bridge, I fear for my life. It is beyond repair, in my Civil Engineering background.
Ed Issler

ajm3s writes:

In an effort to begin my foray as creative director for the Marco Island players, I wish to propose to all "waiting to be discovered" creative writers to submit a "true to life" screenplay. You will begin with a few established characters: a hotel corporation general manager and city community director; the scene: a revised convention center plan in the city planning department, a bridge requiring work and recreational center expansion; the plot: quid pro quo.

YOU have less than 90 days to write the script and propose an ending. The audience is watching.

Disclaimer: All entries will be reviewed for authenticity and attention to detail.

Playwright critics will be limited to use of the word, misinformation, to no more than three instances.

harrisbill239#279036 writes:

To ajm3s: I was almost tempted to write a retraction when I read and found the inspection report that you provided. But then I went back to verify that I had not misread the inspection report that I used for my article. Your reference (#030208) is absolutely true. Then again, my reference (#030209) is also absolutely true. Which has the latest inspection results? I assume, from a numbering standpoint, whether they reflect the inspection date or just the numerically assigned inspection number - that MY reference is the most current. Do you agree?
To laurelbi1: I appreciate your comments. However, every design that I've seen, and all the precursor comments by the Council, have indicated that the bridge be raised to accomodate pedestrian walkways, and to accomodate larger boat and barge traffic underneath. There simply is no other way to accomodate those things without raising the bridge from it's current height.

lauralbi1 writes:

The walkways have been eliminated. The last I heard the bridge could not be raised due to gradients and the fact that this would affect a home on the south side of the bridge.
It needs to be replaced for the least amount of money.
Ed Issler

captnjimbo writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

Mr. Harris: If you follow the bridge epic, you would know that raising the bridge is not possible due to slope limitations and the effect this would have on adjoining lots. I think AJM3 has clarified your error as there is no way that this bridge could have a 98 plus rating.
I know at one time there was talk of having a walkway from Veteran's Park to the Esplanade. This is actually in the Master Plan. But I guess that was dropped also due to cost and politics.
The bridge needs to be replaced. But it does not have to be a super structure. Every time I drive under the bridge, I fear for my life. It is beyond repair, in my Civil Engineering background.
Ed Issler

After reading this post I took a boat ride to Winn Dixie and went under this bridge. I am not an engineer but I can see a disaster waiting to happen. The foundation is crumbling, rebar's are exposed, it looks like concrete is sloughing off. I don't think we need a monument or piece of art like was proposed but that foundation certainly needs some repair.

ajm3s writes:

in response to harrisbill239#279036:

To ajm3s: I was almost tempted to write a retraction when I read and found the inspection report that you provided. But then I went back to verify that I had not misread the inspection report that I used for my article. Your reference (#030208) is absolutely true. Then again, my reference (#030209) is also absolutely true. Which has the latest inspection results? I assume, from a numbering standpoint, whether they reflect the inspection date or just the numerically assigned inspection number - that MY reference is the most current. Do you agree?
To laurelbi1: I appreciate your comments. However, every design that I've seen, and all the precursor comments by the Council, have indicated that the bridge be raised to accomodate pedestrian walkways, and to accomodate larger boat and barge traffic underneath. There simply is no other way to accomodate those things without raising the bridge from it's current height.

Bill:

Excellent detail. I should have included more information. I look at a bridge from its weakest link. In fact, I only posted to show a lower value, that is associated with the southbound lane (sb). The reference you included was the northbound lane (nb). I for some reason, unbeknownst to me got the sb report when I could not open your hyperlink in the LTE. Note: they both reflect inspection date of Jan 15th, 2013.

I did not intend to discredit you and as you have stated, you are correct in your LTE and I was not in my direct response because I did not elaborate nor did I recognize there were two separate reports.

Do NOT be silenced by those who will label you misinformed or as a naysayer...it is the speak of politics.

Sometimes its is not about facts, but about a vision that we hold....and visions of less spending is not a fact or falsity...it is our belief you can operate a city more efficient than other coastal communities.

Some communities will spend more money on fire rescue boats some less, some more on developing open space, some less. Vision with leadership is the most powerful elixir for citizens...I am just watching to see who steps to the plate.

From my perspective, the elected leaders I look to are not afraid to challenge the city or county management...and are not afraid to say we will not accept poor practices, poor maintenance, poor management.

Our elected council members can get it done...and I believe your efforts should not be dismissed considering both our references are facts, we just referenced different lanes.

26yearsonmarco writes:

I know there are allot of people upset about the Mass Mutual expansion of the Marriott which is waiting for the approval of the City.

We now have Councilmen who have business experience, so lets look at the Smokehouse Bridge as a business issue, and make the replacement of it a part of the approval of the expansion because of the increased truck traffic, and make Mass Mutual pay for it.

It's a win/win for Mass Mutual and We the People.

marcosnapper writes:

My name is Chris Halaschak and I lived on Marco Island for a couple of decades. I have since moved off the island about 10 years ago, however, I still have a small place in my heart, or perhaps in my colon for Marco Island. The writer of the article states that there should be some "thinking out of the box". I have what I feel would be the perfect solution. First, actually think out of the box! By building a bridge that is like a small draw bridge, we could accomplish all of the objectives of getting larger boats through this access, plus put in the pedestrian walkway. So, the naysayers will clammer about the cost...have that one covered in my plan as well. In fact, it would never cost most owners on the island anything! What, how could that be possible? Here is how...create a special taxing district that would incorporate only the property/business owners that have property to the South and is contiguous to the bridge, ie; those that have waterfront property that is currently in-direct access and would have to go under that bridge if they want to get out to the Gulf of Mexico. This would be an easy sell, due to the fact that each property owner would see a HUGE increase in their property values, as evidenced by the difference of price of direct access (no bridges, sail boat access) and in-direct access properties (required to go under a bridge}. City Council people, collaborate your feces (g.y.s.t.) and think out of the box! Save the residents of Marco Island money and add value to the property South of this bridge, and nope, I do not own property in this area! Pass this idea up the food chain by feeding it to anyone that is active in your government, and or go to a meeting and be heard! Yes, you can make a difference and change in your world!

26yearsonmarco writes:

Marcosnapper,

You need to get together with the guy who proposed a tunnel instead of the new Winterberry Bridge, and really start thing out of the box, on better yet, simply stay in the box.

captnjimbo writes:

Not bad thinking but I lived in a town where a bridge opened every 20 minutes on the main drag. Trust me residents and visitors of Marco Island would not tolerate the traffic back ups that will occur in season.

Konfuzius writes:

The Marriott City Managament of this Marriott island redouble place will never agree to such a plan. But perhaps the alternative is a sufficient landing strip beginningly at the PUBLIC Beach and a lttle sea port for water aircrafts directly to the the new Convention Center. The traffic connection then can be carried out via San Marco with traffic controls of MIPD during the service times. That is thinking out of the box!!!!

And Eddi,

I read "Every time I drive under the bridge, I fear for my life. It is beyond repair, in my Civil Engineering background."
Don't be worry. You did an asbestos self decontamination test. Your time is anyway limited.

harrisbill239#279036 writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

The walkways have been eliminated. The last I heard the bridge could not be raised due to gradients and the fact that this would affect a home on the south side of the bridge.
It needs to be replaced for the least amount of money.
Ed Issler

to lauralbi1: Did you attend, or view the recording of, the City Council meeting this past Monday (12/2/2013)? If you did, you can readily see that the walkways are included in the latest renderings presented by Tim Pinter. And, when asked by Mr Sacher, Tim confirmed that the bridges WILL have to be raised. By how many feet, has not been established yet - but I feel confident that it will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 to 10 feet, just to accomodate the walkways and people walking beneath the new bridges. Otherwise, people will have to walk hunched over, on their knees, or crawl on their bellies like reptiles, to get under the new bridge. I tried to paste a copy of the new bridge, but the blog format will not allow it. Bill Harris

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