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Limited Park Access Spurs Bridge Project

Wed June 14, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Carol Morrison

Valentine’s Day 2000 saw the beginning of construction on a new bridge to replace the existing span over Bunces Pass in the Tierre Verde section south of St. Petersburg on Florida’s Gulf coast. Builder Johnson Brothers Construction of Litchfield, MN, had work well under way by April and has a crane in place to begin pile driving.

The new bridge is a fixed, mid-level design that will include slightly wider traffic lanes, along with sidewalks for pedestrian traffic. Bunces Pass is immediately north of — and the only land access to — Fort DeSoto Park, one of west central Florida’s most popular camping, boating, and beach destinations. The park lies just to the northwest of Florida’s mammoth Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Jose Rodriguez, a district structures design engineer with the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 7 office, designed the new span. “The existing bridge over the pass was built in 1957,” Rodriguez explained, “and we were having to do maintenance on it pretty frequently because of heavy vehicular traffic and the wear caused by saltwater. The new bridge will greatly cut down on the workload. Because the bridge serves as the access road to Fort DeSoto Park, we have a lot of automobile and boat traffic through the area. The new span will be a little higher for boaters and a bit wider for cars.”

Barge-mounted cranes are being brought in to handle the materials required for construction of the new bridge while earthwork is already ongoing to prepare the property and roadway leading to the span. Placement of the new structure will be immediately east of the existing bridge. DOT officials expect the project to cause minimal disruption in traffic flow to and from the park and project that the new construction will finish on time in September of 2001.

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