■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
The final phases of construction on the new bridge system are almost complete, including a major landscaping project that has come along more quickly than anyone anticipated.
According to Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority Board Member David Hayes, Cintron Landscape Services of Fort Myers was definitely the right choice to make when it came to hiring a landscaping company.
“They are not only on time but ahead of schedule, and they are on budget,” he said. “They will soon be putting pine straw down around the plantings and are expected to be completely done by next Friday. I had no idea they would send such a large crew and get this done so quickly.”
The first step in the process began a little more than a week ago, when they eradicated the weeds on a large scale all the way from the swing bridge to the center bridge. They had to wait for a few days for the chemicals to totally take affect, then came back with a 15-man crew to trim plants and clean everything up. Immediately after that they began planting the trees.
Hayes said the coconut, Sylvester and sabal palms that were planted far exceeded GIBA’s expectations. They are much taller and have more character than most newly planted palms, he said.
“They have certainly installed several magnificent groupings of trees,” he said.
Cintron workers are just finishing up the temporary irrigation system that will water the new trees for their first year after transplant, but the system will be removed after that time, and it is expected that the trees will do well on their own.
The bidding process for the job was completed earlier this year, when only three companies of nine invited showed up to peruse the job. The job included removal of some non-native plants, including Brazilian pepper trees.