Narrow bridges

Bridges over Duck Key in the Florida Keys are causing problems for residents

The Florida Keys are famous for their bridges, primarily those on the Overseas Highway. But some smaller, older bridges on an island are causing headaches for residents.

Duck Key, at kilometer 61 on the Overseas Highway, is not actually an island. It is five islands, divided by canals. Traveling on Duck Key therefore means crossing bridges.

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These bridges were built in the 1950s. They are narrow and there are no paths for pedestrians.

The county began planning to upgrade or replace these bridges in 2017. Then Hurricane Irma arrived and caused a two-year delay.

When the county resumed work on the project, it carried out inspections.

“And they went from no weight limits on decks to very tight weight limits on decks overnight,” said Ron Oestreicher, president of the Duck Key Property Owners Association.

The island where he lives – and where he is renovating a house – is connected by a bridge now limited to 4 tons, or 8,000 pounds.

“Basically, a van could cross the bridge,” Oestreicher said.

This means that for a year now, there has been no garbage collection where he lives. People have to drive their waste and recycling to central collection areas.

And that’s not the only problem.

People who have sold their house cannot bring in a moving company to pack their house. And if you buy a house, you can’t move into the island, ”he said.

The only way to move or receive heavy goods is to load them onto a van or trailer, one at a time. This is how Oestreicher acquired new devices. And, he says, it’s expensive.

The county now posts regular updates on bridge repairs and replacements on its website. And he plans to arrange for barges to make large deliveries that cannot cross bridges.

Oestreicher says it won’t work for everyone. And he says he’s given up on believing in the county schedule to fix old bridges, let alone replace them – which is the ultimate plan.

According to the county, it is spending $ 1.6 million to repair the Harbor and Seaview training bridges and plans to spend $ 4 million to replace each. This work is expected to begin in a little over a year and last for 16 to 18 months.

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