A Grand Opening
By Renee Burrell
The ribbon cutting: Representatives from municipal, county, and federal governments performed the honors. Construction of the award winning bridge was done by Johnson Bros. Inc., Misener Marine Construction, with E.C. Driver & Associates Inc., and was financed through a combination of federal and Penny for Pinellas funds.
Though completed on Dec. 22, 2009, the Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge was officially opened Monday during a ribbon cutting ceremony held under the bridge at the boat ramp park. A reception with cake and punch followed at the new Belleair Beach Community Center.
The bridge will prove invaluable as an evacuation route connecting the barrier islands to the mainland and offers recreational amenities for residents and tourists. It also "…creates an acre of land with parking to accommodate trailers up to 45 feet in length. More than two acres of sea grass beds were enhanced to improve water quality and marine habitat. Along the southern shore of the causeway, a new tidal wetland was constructed to meet state and federal environmental demands," according to Pinellas County.
At a cost of $72.3 million, the award winning bridge has a 75-year service life and also features 12-foot travel lanes, 8-foot sidewalks, and 10-foot wide shoulders with 5-foot bike lanes.
The bridge recently won the 2010 American Public Works Association National Transportation Project of the Year for its cost category and last year was named in Roads and Bridges magazine as No. 5 in the top 10 bridge projects in 2009.
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