Residents of two small island communities should be prepared for traffic delays as a project begins today to replace a pair of 60-year-old bridges.
Work will start first on the two-lane Isle of Capri bridge at 116th Avenue, the only route between the island neighborhood on Boca Ciega Bay and Treasure Island.
Crews expect to shut down one lane in coming days as they prepare to demolish and replace the south side of the bridge. Automatic traffic lights on both sides of the bridge will manage the flow of cars on and off the island.
In four weeks, similar work is set to begin on the Isle of Palms bridge a few blocks to the south at 112th Avenue.
The entire project should be completed by October.
"The bridges are both an eyesore and, from what I understand, really need to be replaced because of their condition, so I'm all for replacing them," said Dominique Reiter, president of the Isle of Capri Civic Association.
The Treasure Island commission last year approved the $3.46 million replacement project, funded by a city property tax increase of $.45 per $1,000 of value.
Both bridges were built by the islands' original developers and had reached the end of their life expectancies, Treasure Island Public Works Director Jim Murphy said.
The new bridges will be built in accordance with Florida Department of Transportation standards and will be rated for heavier cargo loads. They will have 15-foot lanes in each direction, 6-foot wide raised sidewalks with more room for bicycles and pedestrians, and improved aesthetics, such as decorative railings, pavers engraved with names of community members and hidden water mains.
"What will happen is you'll have a modern, current design standard bridge that will provide a much improved multimodal design that will allow for bicycles, pedestrians as well as vehicles," Murphy said.
Construction will take place on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. unless weather causes interruptions. The first phase is expected to be complete by the spring, when traffic will move to the new half of each bridge so crews can replace the other side.
Traffic signal timing will adjust during morning and evening commutes, and the light will have automatic sensors to prevent major backups.
A sidewalk will be open throughout the construction for pedestrians and bicyclists.