Bayway Infrastructures In Peril
By Bill Lopez
SOUTH PINELLAS COUNTY - Bayway bridges in South Pinellas County need repairs or replacement especially those on Highways 682 and 679. The present drawbridge structures at these locations are showing their age. Over the past 50 years or so, the effects of the elements have taken their own toll on the quaint Bayway overpasses that are so much a part of the beach communities in Pinellas County.
Pete Yauch, Director of Public Works and Transportation for Pinellas County said salt water invades the concrete and attaches to the steel inside corroding it and weakening the structures. The bridge mechanisms are also very susceptible to salt water invasion, he added. In time the bridges will become unsafe and or inoperable.
The optimum solution is total replacement with new structures that would last some 75 years or more. These would replace the drawbridge mechanisms with fixed bridges that rise up some 65 feet above the mean water level to accommodate most any type of watercraft that might travel the Bayways.
The 682 East-West Bridge and the 679 North-South bridge replacements would cost approximately $171,000,000 while a repair effort might add 15 years to the life of the present draw bridges for less money but would be less cost effective in the long run, Yauch indicated.
Repair costs estimates were not readily available but may be the only solution in light of the budget dilemma. Bridge costs are born by the Florida Department of Transportation and funding for the new bridges would come from the state with a contribution of county funds if available. During a budget review meeting, also held on Tuesday, the topic of county budget participation was reviewed with inconclusive results.
Contact Bill Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org
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