If it seems like the long-promised replacement of the Pinellas Bayway Bridge has been years in the planning, you're correct. The Doc first wrote about the proposed project back in 2004, when the estimated cost was about $12 million. There have been delays and uncertainty due to several factors, including budget issues, ever since.
But it looks like things are starting to happen. The latest is that the Houston-based Orion Marine Group has been awarded a $40 million contract to replace the bridge. The nearly 50-year-old, two-lane drawbridge will be replaced with a higher four-lane bridge. Orion Marine also will widen approaches to the bridge. Work is scheduled to start early next year and last approximately 2 1/2 years, which puts completion near late 2014 or early 2015, depending on weather and other factors.
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Resurfacing of the southbound U.S. 19 entrance ramp to southbound Interstate 275 has been rescheduled to start this week. The resurfacing now scheduled to start tonight and run through Friday was supposed to have been done last week. It will stretch from the Meisner Bridge (approach to the Sunshine Skyway) to 54th Avenue S, which means the U.S. 19 ramp onto southbound I-275/U.S. 19 will be closed while work is being done. Drivers can access southbound I-275/U.S. 19 by heading east on 54th Avenue S, then south on 31st Street S, then west on Pinellas Point Drive to the entrance ramp off Pinellas Point Drive.
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Seasonal residents who use public transportation should know PSTA offers a new Central Avenue Trolley route that runs from downtown St. Petersburg and the Pier to Pass-a-Grille without a transfer. PSTA says that after introducing the new route in October, ridership increased 14 percent compared to the same period last year. PSTA also operates the Suncoast Beach Trolley that runs along Gulf Boulevard from St. Pete Beach to Clearwater. For information on schedules and fares, visit PSTA.net or call (727) 540-1900.
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Check out AAA's senior driver safety and mobility website, SeniorDriving.AAA.com, which provides advice and tools for senior drivers and their families. Some senior services AAA provides include the "Roadwise Review," an online self-screening tool to help assess a driver's functional abilities important to safe driving, "CarFit," which helps enhance comfort and safety while driving, and senior defensive driving classroom courses that provide driver training.
Lealman: Milling and resurfacing work on 28th Street from 34th to 54th avenues N is scheduled to be completed sometime this week. Expect daytime lane closures and delays as work progresses.
St. Petersburg: Expect lane closures on 38th Avenue N from 49th to 56th streets for the next few weeks as work on sidewalk and storm structure replacements progresses.
Dunedin: Douglas Avenue will be closed from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from San Christopher to San Juan on Dec. 18 for the annual Toys for Tots motorcycle run.
Email Dr. Delay at DocDelay@gmail.com or follow Ask Dr. Delay on Facebook. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.