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Arrival of railings moves new bridge's completion closer

Officials say the project is on schedule and so far is meeting its cost estimate .

Published October 18, 2006

Paradise Island resident Janet Peterson could hardly contain her enthusiasm recently when she spotted a truck along the interstate carrying railings that matched the Treasure Island Causeway Bridge.

"As soon as I saw the truck exit at Fifth Avenue North, I knew it was headed for our bridge," she said.

While thrilled that the new bridge is open to traffic, Peterson and other local athletes and residents are eagerly awaiting the opening of the pedestrian lanes so they can walk, jog and bike across the new structure.

"We like to go to the Pinellas Trail and that's the direct route," she said.

City officials are waiting too - for the railings.

So far, the city has received about 50-60 percent of the materials from a company in Palatka, said public works director Don Hambidge. Once the railings arrive, contractors will have them installed within a couple of weeks, but Hambidge said he has no delivery date.

In the meantime, city transportation director Hal Bruce said it's dangerous and illegal for pedestrians or bicyclists to walk or ride across the bridge.

"I can't wait until its open so that people can walk up and see the beautiful view," Hambidge said. "If you are heading west, you can see the entire city of Treasure Island and it's really pretty. I would love to share that with everybody."

Once the 10-foot-wide recreational walkway is open, visitors can stop in one of several archways and enjoy the view.

Construction of the southern side of the new drawbridge is progressing as well. The first of three levels for the structure was poured Monday.

Bruce said a total of 53 trucks dumped 530 cubic yards of concrete onto the 28 pilings that will serve as the lower level pier or foundation of the bridge.

"That was for the west side and they have to do the same for the east side," Bruce said.

The northern side of the new bridge, which opened to traffic in June, has to be closed temporarily during those concrete pours.

Except for those construction delays, the overall impact on traffic on the new bridge has been positive, Bruce said.

The average number of bridge openings during September was 8.1 per day, compared to 33 openings a day on the old, lower bridge.

Bruce said some of those openings were for construction tests and barges, so the number could be even lower in the future.

The new bridge also is meeting cost and completion expectations.

Hambidge said the drawbridge is still going to cost the anticipated $50-million by the time it opens in fall 2007.

[Last modified October 17, 2006, 21:52:49]

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