Sunday, January 21, 2018
Transportation

Pinellas Bayway bridge demolition to start soon

Would you have any idea how noisy or intrusive the tearing down of the old Pinellas Bayway bridge will be? My husband and I (and dogs) plan on wintering again next year in the Don CeSar community near the bridge but I'm concerned the peace and quiet of the neighborhood will be gone. We would rent farther away if that was the case.

Tomye Anne Barrow

Demolition of the bridge will likely be raucous, but it is scheduled to take place very soon, so snowbirds preparing to head back up North should miss the fun.

Here's the latest: Eastbound traffic was switched onto the new Pinellas Bayway last week. Westbound traffic will be switched sometime in the next few weeks; at the moment the time frame is mid April. Once all traffic has been switched off the old span onto the new bridge (one lane of traffic in each direction on the new span as construction is completed), the old bridge will be demolished and construction the other new span will start.

Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation says the contractor will use heavy equipment to demolish the bridge. Beginning in mid to late April, most of the old Pinellas Bayway will be cut into large pieces and then moved by barge to a Pinellas County artificial reef. This includes the existing piling, which will be completely removed and taken to the artificial reef as well.

The main foundations supporting the old drawbridge will be demolished using explosives, which will take out the pilings under the water. The bridge will be closed to traffic during this operation, which is set to take place sometime in mid to late May. Updates and more detailed information will be provided as the date nears. In the meantime, motorists should use caution and obey the posted speed limits on the Pinellas Bayway, keeping in mind that it remains a construction site with workers near the roadways.

Would you please remind us of the policy for raising the drawbridge on the Pinellas Bayway? I thought the policy is every 20 minutes on the hour if there is a boat waiting to pass under, but last week the bridge went up at 8:50 p.m. for a sailboat to pass. Many of us plan our comings-and-goings across the bridge to avoid the possibility of a raised bridge. The ongoing bridge construction is challenging enough, but when the bridge goes up to accommodate a pleasure boat in a nonemergency situation it is frustrating.

Rick Carson

According to state regulations, the openings for the Pinellas Bayway are indeed on the 20-minute timing, however, that is in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. After hours, the bridge opens on signal — or on-demand — so the opening that took place at 8:50 p.m. to allow a sailboat through the channel was appropriate. So from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the drawbridge is only required to open on the hour, twenty minutes past the hour, and forty minutes past the hour.

The rules for the Pinellas Bayway bridge on the way to Tierra Verde are for the drawbridge to open on signal, except from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., when the drawbridge need open only on the hour and 30 minutes past the hour.

Email Dr. Delay at [email protected] to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions or follow @AskDrDelay on Twitter.

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