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New Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge is completely safe

Cracks in bridge dent confidence in FDOT editorial, Aug. 29

New bridge is completely safe

The article did not accurately present the complete facts or the Florida Department of Transportation's actions regarding the cracks that were reported.

The bridge plans, inspection reports and field observations were reviewed with construction and structural design engineers. This review confirmed that the cracks did not represent any structural problems. If the cracks presented a public safety concern, they would have been addressed immediately.

Public safety is always the most important priority of the FDOT. We want the public to know the new Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge is completely safe.

The cracks are in an area known as a concrete "closure pour." The bridge consists of two separate structures with a gap intentionally built between them. While the two structures could have been safely left separate, this gap was closed by placing a layer of concrete between them. Since it only links the structures, the closure pour does not contribute to the structural integrity of the bridge.

The cracks are not uncommon and primarily occur where concrete sections are poured at different times. FDOT inspectors and structural engineers routinely monitor and address the condition of the bridge, including any cracks discovered. The cracks are not "several inches" wide as reported (New cracks found on bridge, story, Aug. 28) but are a fraction of an inch. The staining makes the cracks look unsightly and larger than they actually are on the bridge.

As the FDOT had previously explained, the area where the cracks appear will be cleaned and repaired. As a preventative maintenance measure, we also plan to seal the concrete surfaces to prevent water from running through the cracks.

To alleviate any confusion and public concern the editorial may have created, please inform the public that the cracks will be repaired in the near future, well before any structural damage would ever occur.

We understand your concerns regarding the challenges associated with the maintenance and operation of the old drawbridge and the construction of the new bridge. All new bridge construction issues were resolved satisfactorily, thus ensuring the safety of the public. There should be no correlation between routine maintenance activities and the issues that took place during construction.

In summary, the FDOT dispatched staff and responded to the concern and determined the cracks represented no threat to the safety of the public. Required repairs will be made in a timely manner to insure the longevity of the structure. We appreciate your interest in transportation issues and remain at your service to assist you in informing the public of the facts.

Donald Skelton, P.E., Florida Department of Transportation District Seven secretary

Builder should provide parking

For 18 years, I have lived a short distance from Clearwater Beach. For most of that time, I have visited the beach or marina to congregate with senior friends (most on a pension), usually on a daily basis.

For a number of months, the construction along Mandalay Avenue has made free parking a valuable premium. The lot east of the marina, adjacent to the foot bridge, provided this benefit to citizen taxpayers and visiting snowbirds.

However, it is now customary for the construction workers to arrive about 6:30 a.m. and occupy these free spaces for their work day. There is hardly a space to be had.

If we must chock the beach with new construction, at least require the builder to provide parking to this small army. As a retiree, I can't afford daily parking fees in empty pay lots. These fees serve to pay part of my grocery bill.

Also, I am 75 years old and with some back ailments — walking is not an option.

Horace L. Layton, Clearwater

Why are there so many jellyfish?

I just moved here in June and love going to beach.

But the last few times I have gone, there were tons of jellyfish in the water and washed up on the beach. Can you please tell me why? And who, if anyone, is going to clean up the beach area where they are lying dead?

Shari Townsend, Largo

>>your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

New Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge is completely safe 09/16/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 21, 2008 7:29pm]

    

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