The start date of a construction project for the Park Boulevard Bridge is still unknown. The bridge connects mainland areas of Pinellas County to its barrier islands.
ST. PETE BEACH – Pinellas County officials told members of the Barrier Islands Government Council June 25 they would do their best to begin repairs to the Park Boulevard bridge in early September.
The project, which has been proposed since last fall, would close the bridge for 30 days. The entire project would take 120 days.
A contract for $834,685 was awarded June 24 to Seacoast Inc. of Oldsmar.
Initially, Richard Coates, director of transportation and stormwater for Pinellas County Department of Environment and Infrastructure, said County Commissioner John Morroni suggested a time between November and December but beach leaders didn’t agree.
“Traditionally, September is our most quiet month,” said Indian Shores Mayor Jim Lawrence. “Is it possible for construction to start by then?”
“I agree with Mayor Lawrence,” said Redington Shores Mayor Bert Adams. “If we could get it started at the first of September that would be the best.”
Project Manager Tom Menke said it is feasible for a September start but everything would have to fall into place perfectly.
“All of the pieces have to fit together and some of it is out of our hands as far as the contractor, who now has to produce bonds and insurance to the county,” he said. “That sometimes takes time.”
Menke said he would begin immediately to set the September date in motion.
“We’ll definitely leave this meeting and go talk to our purchasing department and see what we can do to accelerate the process,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to achieve that.”
In the event of a hurricane evacuation, the bridge would reopen and it would be used to help residents get safely to higher ground.
Other emergency management plans call for a Sunstar ambulance to be stationed on the beach during the closure to better handle paramedic emergencies.
According to county officials, the project is necessary because the bridge machinery is undersized, which has resulted in past closings.
The work will consist of installation of primary reducers and brakes, trunnion hub reinforcement, buffer repair, live load shoe and nose lock shimming, bridge balancing and maintenance painting.
During the 30-day closure, motorists can use alternative routes to the beaches via the Walsingham Road and Tom Stuart Causeway bridges in Indian Rocks Beach and Madeira Beach.
The Park Boulevard Bridge was built in 1979, connecting Park Boulevard with the barrier islands.