Letter to the Editor: A bridge over calmer waters

May 11, 2015
By Boca Beacon

boca_grande-swing bridge-1To the Editor:
I went to the GIBA website after reading the account of the last bridge meeting. Under “about us” was a statement entitled mission.
“To maintain safe and efficient traffic flow at all times through the toll booths, along the causeway, and along the Intracoastal Waterway. To make fair and balanced decisions which impact a diverse group of stakeholders including owners, travelers, local businesses and employees.”
To make fair and balanced decisions? When? The chairwoman says nothing will be done until everyone’s back. Who’s back? The rude people that booed their fellow Islanders opinions at the last big open meeting? The tour bus phobics? The scores of winter residents who arrive in cars and complain about parking?
I want to address the comments of one committeeman who represents us, who chastised a young woman trying to make a nice gesture at the board’s last meeting, with derogatory comments about visitors (part of a diverse group) to the island. The comments were bigoted and unacceptable. He certainly doesn’t speak for all of us.
A lot of people in this Island rely on those visitors for their livelihood. You know, so they can be successful, like the folks on the bridge committee. Revenue from the bridge is used to pay for the bridge, so how in the hell is discouraging people from using the bridge a good business policy?
And then there’s the debate over weight restrictions on the new bridges. We built the new bridges not only because the old ones were deteriorating, but to increase the load limits. Our neighbors in the isles need to rebuild their bridge, and that project will require heavy loads of construction material. Their case was presented eloquently here last week. The new sewage treatment plant will also require heavy loads of construction material.
In truth, we can save money by not lying about weight limits. Trucks of the same size that travel our bridges now, only with heavier loads, mean less truck traffic overall because they can carry more in one load. No one is saying the size of the trucks will increase, just the load weight.
These decisions are going to be made because people are afraid of tour buses? Who’s driving that clown car?
And what does it mean when the words, “We’ll take this up when everybody’s here?” are said? Perhaps the residents that are here 12 months out of the year, the ones who make their living here, who have jobs here, have a little more vested interest in our home town? They are here for reasons other than to continue on the lifestyle of the genteel.
If you attend a bridge meeting you can hear engineers going on and on about weight transfer, transfer points, weight limits, axle-to-axle weight distribution, air pressure during hurricanes … and now you’re going to tell us they don’t know how much weight the bridge can hold?
Oh and by the way, it’s 2015; nobody breaks a car in anymore.
One last word to our hard-working bridge committee members – I don’t think social engineering is in your job description.
Skip Perry
Boca Grande, Planet Earth