HERNANDO BEACH — Hernando Beach South resident Jim Rice would have liked to have seen the bridge on Companero Entra raised to better accommodate his boat and the boats of some of his neighbors.
He believes the project to provide more clearance under the bridge would have paid dividends in rising property values.
But Rice's neighbors have overwhelmingly defeated a proposal to raise the bridge by 6 feet and split the cost of the $2.36 million project.
On Monday, the county's special assessment coordinator Kelly Trout said that by last week's deadline, 77 percent of the approximately 580 residents who returned ballots had voted "no."
That means the question will never go to the County Commission for consideration.
"We gave it our best shot," Rice said. "But what it came down to was that people were not sure they had the money and they were not sure this was going to increase their property values. So I think we're going to let it rest for now.''
County officials had projected a per-lot cost of $221 a year over 20 years or a lump sum of $2,493.
A bridge committee was formed recently to attempt to convince residents of Hernando Beach South and the area known as middle beach to approve the raising of the bridge so larger boats had better clearance and smaller boats weren't so restricted by tides. Those areas of Hernando Beach do not have direct access to the gulf.
Instead, they must travel through their canals to the community boat lift where a land bridge ordered years ago by environmental regulators separates salt from fresh water. Boat owners use the lift to maneuver their boats over the land bridge into the fresh water on the other side and under the bridge at Companero Entra.
Opponents argued that they didn't need the higher bridge because their boats fit through just fine and that it made no sense to destroy a perfectly good bridge.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.