Repairs being made to Matlacha Bridge
Last week some much needed repair work got under way on the Matlacha Bridge. Although it has not yet been determined how long the work will continue, in an effort to cause less interruption in traffic flow, much of the work will be done at night.
According to officials at the Florida Department of Transportation, during the first night of work, it was quickly determined the extent of the repairs the bridge would require.
“Now that we have determined the extent of the needed repairs, we can easily work on the bridge without further interruption in traffic flow,” said Clay Simmons with DOT. “We don’t intend to upset people by doing this kind of work at this time of year, but this is necessary for keeping the bridge safe and in good repair.”
According to Simmons, it became apparent that the repairs were necessary due to deterioration in the bridge deck/travel lanes that were discovered in the most recent FDOT inspection as well as the county’s own internal inspections. Simmons, however, stressed that the bridge is still safe for travelers.
“We will continue to maintain the bridge in Matlacha until the time comes when a new bridge can be built,” said Simmons. “The repairs we are currently addressing are the result of corrosion of the steel on the deck which, in turn, has caused some of the concrete to crumble. The corrosion problem has already been addressed and workers will be removing the chipped and crumbling concrete and replacing it to keep the bridge in good shape.”
The bridge had been slated for replacement in 2008 but the pro-ject was temporarily put on hold due to lack of funding.
“While we await replacement of the bridge, island residents and visitors can expect the frequency and extent of repairs to the bridge to increase until the bridge can be replaced,” Simmons said. “Due to the delays for the replacement of the Matlacha Bridge, we believe it is imperative that repairs such as these be addressed and completed as they arise.”
When funds become available, the construction of the new bridge will be done by E.C. Driver and Associates from Tampa, which has designed a new two-lane bridge with the addition of breakdown lanes and sidewalks.
The existing bridge is a single span bascule bridge with only two lanes and no shoulder making it impossible to maintain two lanes of traffic in the event of a vehicular breakdown on the bridge. While the bridge has not outlived its life expectancy, the county has decided it would be more cost effective to replace the bridge rather than constantly repairing the old one — now, when funding becomes available.
In a previous study conducted by DOT in 2006, the county had determined that the bridge could support traffic for an additional 15 years if it were to be maintained through regular repairs.