The Park Boulevard Bridge will be closed to motorists and pedestrians for 30 days in June.
INDIAN SHORES – Motorists and pedestrians headed to and from the beaches on Park Boulevard will need to find an alternate route in June.
That’s because Pinellas County officials announced plans Oct. 30 for a major renovation to the Park Boulevard Bridge that will close the structure for about 30 days.
The bridge will remain in the open position to meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements.
County engineer Tom Menke said the primary reducer, or gearbox, which lifts the bridge, needs to be replaced and probably the secondary reducer, which is leaking oil, will be replaced as well.
“We’ve had maintenance issues with this for a while,” said Menke. “It (the reducer) is undersized and doesn’t meet the current specifications for the bridge.”
The estimated cost of the project is $700,000 to $800,000, Menke said.
Final engineering specifications are being prepared and the project is expected to be put out for bid soon.
A failure of the primary reducer on May 7 prompted the county to move forward with the upgrades. Plans are to replace the reducer, motor brake and adjust the air buffer mechanisms of the bridge mechanics, according to information from the county.
“People have been complaining about that bridge for some time,” said North Redington Beach Mayor Bill Queen. “So it’s good that you’re moving forward on this.”
Nancy McKibben, an engineering specialist for Pinellas County, said the work was scheduled in June because school would be out.
“It also will be hurricane season,” she said. “So if we need to have an evacuation, the bridge will be forcefully closed.”
Menke was asked why engineers couldn’t do one side at a time, leaving one lane open for traffic during the work.
He explained that the bridge is a single bridge, unlike the Indian Rocks Beach Bridge, which would nix that idea.
“There also will be some other construction going on,” Menke said, “and we could have some lane closures (leading to the bridge).”
Alternative routes during the construction will be the Indian Rocks Causeway and the Tom Stuart Causeway bridges.
The Park Boulevard Bridge was built in 1979, connecting Park Boulevard with the barrier islands.