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Bayou Bridge removed, for (almost) the last time

January 11, 2024
By Garland Pollard

The temporary Bayou Bridge is mostly gone, at least temporarily.

Wednesday, crews from Kelly Brothers Inc. were dismantling the center of the galvanized steel bridge, which partially sat on 7th Street, just north of the Gasparilla Inn golf course bridge, which is sort of a high humpback with room for one car and one golf cart.

The rule? Honk. Always. And go slowly.

The low bridge allows flat and easier access to the golf course island of The Gasparilla Inn, where the Gasparilla Island Water Authority has facilities.

“When it comes out, we are going to sell it,” said Ron Bolton, executive director of the Gasparilla Island Water Authority.

The modified truss temporary bridge has not been inexpensive. All told, it has cost about $1 million. It is literally in pieces, like a grown up Erector Set. 

Supervisor Raul Benitez of Kelly Brothers was there with a crew on Wednesday, Jan. 10, taking pieces off with a crane.

The pieces, sort of squared off trapezoidal sections, are stored and will block each end, until it goes back in May. It is held together with bolts, and shows remarkable strength for the lightness of the side panels.

“It blocks both ends, with one half on each side,” said Benitez.

Boaters will be happy to have it back open, as it blocks marine access to the Boca Grande Bayou.

That means that boats using Miller’s and any docks on the south side of the island have to take a longer route out to the Intracoastal Waterway, and vice versa. Tour boats have also missed the canal manatees.

Bolton said that when it goes back in May, 2024 will be the last year that it will be up temporarily, and will be permanently removed next year, with the landscaping replaced. It will be sold by GIWA.

“It’s the last time it goes back,” said Bolton. 

The bridge has served double duty, helping facilitate GIWA’s wastewater treatment facility rehabilitation, as well as providing assistance to the Inn’s golf course crew while its new bridge was under construction, and then course refurbishment following Hurricane Ian.

Photos below from Matthew Gutman, Boca Beacon and Gasparilla Island Magazine.