TREASURE ISLAND — Isle of Capri and Isle of Palms residents will get early presents in December that can't be opened until August.
Construction of two bridges to replace the 60-year-old spans to those communities is expected to begin in December and will take nearly 300 days to complete.
"We are really excited," public works director Jim Murphy said Tuesday.
The new bridges are expected to cost $3.46 million.
A special meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 20 at City Hall for residents of the two islands. Murphy and members of the design-build team, A2B Engineering and Johnson Brothers, will discuss the construction schedule and how it will affect access to the communities.
The bridges will be built simultaneously, one half at a time, with construction of the south side first, followed by the north side.
A sidewalk will be open throughout the construction for pedestrians.
Two-way traffic will share one lane and will be regulated by temporary traffic lights on both sides of the bridges. Timing of the lights will be adjusted to accommodate heavier traffic times and will include automatic sensors to prevent long backups.
Construction will occur from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Work will be performed on Saturdays only when weekday construction is delayed because of weather.
The first phase of construction is expected to be completed by April, at which time traffic will be switched to the new bridges and the remaining older bridges will be demolished to allow construction of the second half of the new bridges.
The bridges are expected to be fully opened to two-way traffic by August.
The existing bridges were built in the 1950s by the original island developers and "have experienced significant structural degradation," Murphy said.
The state considers the bridges "functionally obsolete" and "structurally deficient."
The city had to spend $80,000 in 2010 to reinforce the bridges and fill voids that had developed under the approaches and behind the bulkheads.
Since then, the city hired the engineering firm EC Driver & Associates to develop project specifications and evaluate the resulting bids.
The new bridges, which are expected to have a lifespan of more than 70 years, will be wider with 15-foot travel lanes in each direction.
Beige bridge railings matching those on the main causeway bridge and on the beach trail will include lights that illuminate sidewalks on both sides and decorative medallions. The ADA-compliant 6-foot-wide sidewalks will have a stamped brick-colored surface.
The contractor, Johnson Brothers, built the city's bascule bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway and the two smaller bridges to the east and west of the main bridge.
"We are encouraged because you have done a nice job on our existing bridges," Mayor Bob Minning told the contractors last month.