Commissioners, residents appear to be at odds on Dunedin causeway fix

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A fix for the deteriorating Dunedin Causeway may be near.

  • Dunedin Causeway project
  • Pinellas commissioners have 3 options for new bridge
  • In public meetings, residents and locals selected more expensive bridge

Pinellas County commissioners are slated to continue discussions today on one of three choices to replace the structure that is more than 50 years old.     

Commissioners appear to be leaning in one direction but residents in the area may want something different.  

Commissioners have three options they are weighing and are giving locals a voice on the new bridge design. After months of public input, an overwhelming number chose the most expensive option.

During a meeting tonight, commissioners may be forced to chose between a more cost-effective option or the more expensive bridge the public seems to want.

The bridge designs all come down to height.

A low level bridge would cost just over $ 67 million and have a 21 foot clearance – that would force more bridge openings to accommodate bigger boats and add to long term operational costs.

A mid-level bridge (35 feet), which is the preferred choice by locals, would only open about half the time, saving money in the long run for operational costs but checks in with construction costs of $ 72 million.

The most cost-effective bridge is a high-level fixed bridge. It would have a clearance of 65 feet and eliminate the need for a draw bridge. Construction costs would be $ 50 million.

Although most of the commissioners favor the higher bridge, residents say it would be too steep for people on foot or bikes to cross and could blocks views of the water.

Meanwhile, the city is hoping for 80 percent funding from the federal government but so far there is no assured funding partners for the remaining 20 percent.


A mid-level bridge (35 feet), which is the preferred choice by locals, would only open about half the time, saving money in the long run for operational costs but checks in with construction costs of $ 72 million.

Without that funding source, a vote on the project could be delayed, which could ultimately lead to higher costs.

Commissioners also will discuss whether to spend additional millions to replace the smaller span that goes between the causeway and Honeymoon Island.

Both bridges were constructed in 1963 and are considered “functionally obsolete” because of their narrow width. There are no shoulders on the bridges, and the sidewalks on the north side are only 3 ½ foot wide.

The length of the project is about two miles and includes two existing bridges. The Main “bascule” or movable bridge connects Ward Island to Dunedin Causeway. The Tide Relief Bridge is the smaller span.

Bay News 9 – news

August 23, 2016 |

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