BY MARCY SHORTUSE - In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a big ol’ bridge going up on the Boca Grande Causeway.
According to Jim Cooper, the executive director of the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority, the center bridge project is ahead of schedule, and the workers have finished installing the last span.
“Last week the last delivery of eight beams came, which completed the last two spans over the water,” Cooper said. “It’s kind of a big deal, because now you can get a better idea of how tall the bridge is going to be.”
Also, this weekend, if weather permits, they will be pouring the new deck as well.
In other bridge news, the south bridge sidewalk is open and ready for business. New “pedestrians only” signs have been painted coming onto the sidewalk from both directions, and new yellow poles block the sidewalk entrances to golf carts.
“Strollers and carriages will get through just fine, and wheelchairs, can rock and roll,” he said. “Remember, legally, golf carts aren’t allowed on roadways in Charlotte County, which is where the bridges are located. In real life, though, if you put the math together, we have two four-foot shoulders. That’s almost an extra lane so, in theory, if there’s a golf cart trucking along on the roadway, people will have room to pull around it.”
Drilling companies who work for Comcast and CenturyLink have been bringing their equipment in to begin a two-week process of determining where the new utility routes will be, which means some flag men and one-lane traffic for a brief period of time.
“That will all be done in the evening, after peak traffic times,” Cooper said. “We’re trying to minimize inconvenience to our customers. We’re trying to coordinate everything so they’re not stepping on everyone else in the process. So far it’s working really well. Both Comcast and CenturyLink, as well as FPL and the water board, should be commended for the work they’ve put in.”
Cooper said the utility workers are trying to “get out of Dodge” by July 1 as far as the center bridge goes.
“We are definitely ahead of schedule on the center bridge, they will probably be finished by the end of September,” he said. “They’re really going at it full bore. It takes a lot of coordination to get this stuff done. I’m very pleased things are going like they are.”
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