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Matlacha Bridge project replacement on time, within budget

By Staff | Dec 20, 2011

The progress for the Matlacha Bridge replacement project is currently on schedule for its completion at the end of next year – and within budget.

“We are about half way through,” said Sarah Clarke, project manager for the Lee County Department of Transportation. “We have all of the piles driven and they are now bringing in the new bridge tender house.”

On May 18, 2010, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners awarded an $18 million construction contract to Archer Western Contractors Ltd. for the replacement of the Matlacha Bridge. The construction began Oct. 11, 2010.

The project was approved by the commissioners, Clarke said, because when they looked at a 50-year period, the cost to keep the bridge maintained was greater than replacing it.

“It was actually deemed as structurally deficient,” she said.

The next step for the construction process of the bridge, Clarke said, is the placement of new piles to hold the new fender system, which is a guide for the boats through the channel. She said there will be channel closures on select days until Jan. 15, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Large boats have to call ahead to see if they can get through,” Clarke said.

Boats that need a bridge opening are encouraged to call the contractor in advance to determine if the channel will be closed on that specific day. Any mariners that have questions about channel closure can call 239-283-2414.

Clarke said they are trying to do the best they can to keep traffic flowing through the construction zone, while minimizing disruption to businesses.

“We have very narrow lanes through there, be cautious and go slowly through the work zone,” she said. “It is a very restrained working area.”

Information is constantly updated on the website www.Matlachabridge.info for those interested in monitoring the progress of the bridge.

The replacement bridge, which is being constructed just south of the existing bridge, will be approximately the same height as the current bridge.

The new bridge will provide 50 feet horizontal and nine feet vertical clearance for boats when closed. It will also be approximately four feet wider than the existing bridge once completed, providing drivers with 11-foot traveling lanes in both directions. A shoulder on either side of the bridge will also allow traffic to continue in either direction if there is a traffic accident or breakdown, along with passage of an emergency vehicle.

A barrier will also separate the five-foot sidewalks on either side of the bridge from vehicle traffic for pedestrians.