|June reopening for new Manntown bridge|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Mike Anderson|
|Thursday, 31 May 2012 12:14|
It used to take Mac McCollum just a few minutes to drive from his home just south of the Manntown Bridge off County Road 125 to the Glen St. Mary Post Office to pick up his mail every day.
He’s looking forward to those good old days.
Since the Manntown Bridge has been shut down for nearly five months while a new span is being built, Mr. McCollum has had to take a much more time-and-gas-consuming detour to get from one side of I-10 to the other.
“It’s 18 miles round trip for me to get my mail,” he said, adding that he still checks his post office box daily but makes his mail run coincide with other trips to save money on gasoline.
“I go out to eat my lunch and while I’m out I go by the post office,” he said.
South county resident Kelli Klenk said the project has been a minor inconvenience for her as well.
“Honestly, it hasn’t affected me too much,” she said this week. “I live off of Woodlawn [Road] and I go to church a few times a week on Mudlake [Road]. Going down CR 125 usually saves me about five minutes instead of having to go down 121.”
Soon, people like Mr. McCollum who live on one side of I-10 but usually take CR 125 to the other side to go to work, visit relatives or friends, or run errands, will be able to return to their old familiar route.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, which began the bridge reconstruction job in mid-January, the $3.5 million project is nearing completion and traffic should begin to flow again on CR 125 in less than two weeks, possibly a little longer due to tropical storm Beryl this week.
“It’ll be wonderful. We’re really looking forward to it,” Mr. McCollum said.
County Manager C.J. Thompson is just as eager as Mr. McCollum for the road and new bridge to be opened.
“We live south of I-10 (near CR 125) and the lady who takes care of our daughter lives on Nursery Road on the north side of I-10,” Mr. Thompson said. “I have to go all the way around to take my daughter to her two or three days a week. So, it’s inconvenient for me.”
Gina Busscher, public information director in FDOT’s district office in Lake City, said on May 24 that the new bridge was scheduled to open on June 11. But in an interview on the morning of May 29, as a steady rain continued courtesy of Beryl, Ms. Busscher said the opening date was not certain.
“We’re still working toward that June 11 date,” Ms. Busscher said. “But they may have to do some repair work where water is washing some of the lime rock off the shoulders that still have to be paved. That might take a few days. The project manager went out there this morning to inspect for damage and assess the situation.”
Originally, state transportation officials estimated the project would take about four months to complete. However, the job was delayed by rain and construction materials not arriving on time, Ms. Busscher said.
“We had a delay in the rail shipment of rip rap rubble that we had to have in place before the approach road could be finished,” she said. “They still have to put down the last layer of asphalt and the steel guard rail.”
One of the last things to be done is pouring a top layer of asphalt on CR 125 from I-10 to just south of Woodlawn Road. That is scheduled for June 7.
“Even after the bridge is reopened to traffic,” Ms. Busscher said, “we’ll still have punch list items to take care of and cleanup to do. We have until July to finish the project but we’re scheduled to reopen on June 11.”
The old bridge, which many had considered dangerously narrow, is being replaced by a new span totaling 47 feet wide across the south prong of Little St. Mary’s River. The new structure will include two 12-foot-wide travel lanes and two 10-foot-wide shoulders.
The project also included widening and resurfacing of 3,420 feet of CR 125, which will feature paved shoulders on the north and south approaches to the bridge, as well as new storm water drainage systems.
Mr. McCollum said getting a safer, wider bridge will be well worth the long wait and detour.
“That old bridge was getting dangerous,” he said. “One time my truck mirror actually hit another truck’s mirror when we passed each other on the bridge.”
It was the safety issue which led county commissioners in December to approve a request by FDOT’s chief project engineer, James Driggers, to close the bridge to traffic during the construction work.
Mr. Driggers said construction workers and equipment would be able to work more efficiently and safely without continuous traffic passing by. Once the new bridge is finished it should be adequate for at least half a century, Mr. Driggers said.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 31 May 2012 12:17|