Marco Island Florida, Marco Island Bridge Repair

The Judge Jolly Bridge Repaired by Hurricane Season?

There seems to be some confusion as to the structural integrality of our main bride used for ingress and egress to our island.  City staff, at one point told Council Members that the bridge could fail and needed serious repairs to prevent it's failure.

The good news is that Debbie Tower, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) spokesperson, said that the bridge is not in need of serious repairs and that it needs rip rap placed at the seven piers at the base of the bridge due to "scour damage".  Scour damage is caused by erosion due to the tidal actions over the years.  The price tag for the repairs will be in the neighborhood of $500,000.  The FDOT will foot the bill for the project and there will not be a closure of the bridge as was stated at one point by Marco Public Works Director Rony Joel.  The bridge and it's driving surface can be repaired at night by closing one lane and allowing traffic to utilize the other lane.  The repair of the road base and pile repairs are scheduled for scheduled in fiscal 2006.  

Tower also said that "These are all routine maintenance projects the DOT does for every bridge in the state, We inspect bridges every two years".  Also stated by Tower, "We have done routine maintenance and inspections as appropriate on the Jolly Bridge. This bridge will last another 20 years with routine maintenance and, with significant work, it could last another 30 to 40 years."  

So, how is it possible that Rony Joel, Mike Minozzi and City Manager Bill Moss were involved in a conference call with a DOT project manager who stated that the bridge needed critical repairs to the tune of $4 million to $5 million? This is a big deviation from the $500,000. for the non-critical repair.  According to Joel, the information was based on a report from the Department of Transportation study performed by Ventry Engineering. Ventry was hired to study options for adding an additional two-lanes to the Jolley's existing two lanes to alleviate the lane reduction problem that currently exists during "season". 

How will the repairs affect the addition of additional lanes down the road (no pun intended)? Or, will the City of Marco take over the bridge to prevent good money thrown to bad, tear the aged 1969 structure down, and start from scratch with a nice four lane bridge with a toll to pay the price?  What is your opinion?  The DOT states that the bridge is designed for a 50 year lifespan, and with maintenance, the bridge and it's useful life can be extended for many more years.  It is my opinion that we should bite the bullet and tear the old bride down, use the concrete rubble for a artificial reef out in the Gulf of Mexico, and build a new bridge with six lanes, to meet all future needs of the island.  Put up a toll that would not apply to anyone with a Marco Island address, and wallla, we have a new state of the art Marco Island Bridge!  

Lets look at the numbers....In peak season, according to the DOT, the bridge is used by 35,000 vehicles per day.  In off season the bridge sees about  25,000 per day. I do not have any information, nor does anyone else relating to what percentage of the traffic is "local" however, I think we would be safe to say that perhaps half of the traffic is local residents.  So, lets take the off season number of 25,000 vehicles per day and cut that number in half, which is 12,500 vehicles per day.  Lets say the toll is $2.50 per vehicle.   Doing the math, that works out to $31,250.00 per day, and if you compute that to an annual basis, $11,406,250.00 per year!  Hmmm, how much does a new bridge cost?  The people that complain about having to pay a toll to get on the island could take the Goodland Bridge.  What is the process of taking a bridge from the DOT?  I have no idea, but hey, everyone will always want to visit Marco Island, and after the bridge is paid for, we could use the money to pay for other improvements on our lovely sub tropical island.  Just a thought, perhaps a reality.   We will leave the decision making to our elected City officials.

Story by Christopher Halaschak



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