Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Growth Affecting Bridge St. Johns Wants Help on Widening

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Growth Affecting Bridge St. Johns Wants Help on Widening

Article excerpt

ST. AUGUSTINE -- In two years, the Army Corps of Engineers plans

to build a $19 million, two-lane bridge to replace the Palm

Valley Bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway in St. Johns

County.

But those familiar with growth problems in St. Johns and Duval

counties say the new span on County Road 210 needs to be four

lanes wide.

The corps won't pay for the work, and adding two lanes would

cost $7.6 million, including $750,000 in redesign money due by

April.

St. Johns County officials say they can shoulder some of those

costs but will be looking for regional help in the future.

Corps project manager Jerry Scarborough said when the federal

government studied what sort of bridge to build, there was no

reason for a wider span, particularly because there were no

plans to widen County Road 210.

"There was no one who could tell us when they would four-lane

210," he said. "They still don't have a plan."

The 61-year-old bridge is the last bridge the corps owns and

operates in Florida. Once it builds the high-rise replacement,

the federal government plans to turn it over to the county.

Assistant St. Johns County Administrator George Flint said the

county would be better off paying for the groundwork now that

will make an expansion of the bridge easier later.

Flint said money from road impact fees could pay for the

redesign.

And under a corps plan that would add only the support

structures for more lanes, the county could come up with $2.5

million in construction money that would be due by October 1999,

when bids are solicited from contractors.

"We can finance it ourselves, what we need to put in now,"

Commissioner Joanne Cody said. "Not the whole bridge, but the

substructure."

When the county did its last traffic count two years ago, 6,400

vehicles were rumbling across the narrow bridge daily. With

25,000 residents in northeast St. …

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