Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge Opens to Two-Way Traffic
The Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge opened to two-way traffic on Friday, May 29. The bridge that connects the Pinellas County mainland peninsula to the barrier islands is 80 percent complete. Full completion of the project is anticipated by the end of the year.
Begun in March 2007, the $72.3 million infrastructure project has continued on time and on budget, with bridge builders facing few weather delays and one nonstructural repair. The full scope of work encompasses 1.5 miles of a new large span “main” bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, a small relief bridge and approaching causeway roadway in Belleair Bluffs to the east and Belleair Shore and Belleair Beach to the west. In addition, new storm drains, retaining walls, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, curbs and gutters, and a widened roadway will provide safe use for the public.
During construction, motorists continued to use the existing causeway bridge as both new bridges were built on a north-shifted alignment from the existing structures. To further reduce traffic congestion, detours were scheduled during nighttime hours for critical construction and public safety requirements. Prior to and during construction, information and updates were provided in citizen letters, multiple public and community-partnership meetings, an information phone line, motorist message boards, news media advisories and the website www.belleaircausewaybridge.com with news, renderings, photos and Web camera for traffic review on demand.
Over the next five to six months, construction and demolition will continue with removal of the existing bridge structures and temporary portions of the roadway, completion of the south half of the relief bridge, building of a new boat ramp park, construction of retention and detention ponds, final grading, paving, signing and pavement markings. More than two acres of seagrass beds will be enhanced to improve water quality and the marine habitat, and along the southern shore of the causeway, a new tidal wetland will be constructed as required by federal and state environmental agencies.
The new bridges are being constructed for a 75-year service life and feature a sleek design with fewer concrete columns for extended water views. An increased bridge elevation creates an acre of land with additional parking, accommodating trailers up to 45 feet in length.
The Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge is a critical corridor for traffic and a primary evacuation route for area residents of the barrier islands. E.C. Driver & Associates Inc., CEI consultant; HDR Engineering, design consultant; and contractors Misener Marine Construction Inc. and Johnson Bros. Inc. set a benchmark in U.S. bridge building by applying the innovative incremental launch method on this main channel bridge approaches.??For more information including traffic advisories, visit the Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge website www.belleaircausewaybridge.com. Please note, the sidewalks will remain closed to pedestrians through project completion to maintain public safety.
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