Cedar Key Commission Meeting Discusses Bridge Reconstruction

The C Street bridge leading to Dock Street undergoes reconstruction Tuesday. (Graham Hall/WUFT News)
The C Street bridge leading to Dock Street undergoes reconstruction Tuesday. (Graham Hall/WUFT News)

The rebuilding of the C Street bridge in Cedar Key has the city commission focusing on a temporary solution, although the future of the bridge connecting the city’s largest tourism district is less clear.

Cedar Key public works director Bill Crandley and commissioners discussed solutions and issues related to the reconstruction of the bridge connecting C Street to Dock Street during a city commission meeting at City Hall on Tuesday.

The bridge – along with the Lewis Pass and Daughtry Bayou Bridge – is part of a multi-faceted reconstruction project to repair Cedar Key’s bridges.

Levy County has helped fund the restoration of the bridge, which is estimated to be back in working condition within the next several weeks.

Construction to bring the bridge up to par has been ongoing since the FDOT proposed the plan in Oct. 2014.

The goal is to have the three bridges in working condition so the Florida Department of Transportation can fund the cost of their replacement. If the C Street bridge, which was built in the late 1960s, isn’t in working condition, Levy County would be on the hook for funding the project.

On Tuesday, Cedar Key Vice Mayor Dale Register said the county should prioritize the preservation and repair of the Cedar Key marina, its bridges and beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. He said he believes the county should be more concerned with the repair of the bridge, considering its use in promoting the Levy County area.

But so far, Levy County has only paid for the cost of reconstructing the bridge, and the city commission is still awaiting a final plan on a permanent solution.

“Unless they’ve spent every dollar in the budget this year, and I doubt they have, then there’s something else in there [the budget] that they cannot do, so they can dredge our marina and fix the problem that their bridge caused,” Register said.

But Levy County coordinator Fred Moody said the city of Cedar Key hasn’t submitted a request for the county to dredge, or deepen and widen, the marina. Any such plan could change the plans of the bridge’s reconstruction.

“Nothing has ever been brought before the board for something like that,” Moody said of the proposed dredging. “That would take grant funding, something else entirely.

“That’s a major, major undertaking to do that. There’s times on low tide where boats can not navigate under the bridge to come into or out of the marina. And it’s been that way forever.”

If the final plan calls for the city to close the bridge in its entirety and cut off traffic, Crandley said the marina should be worked on as well, which already has a congestion problem with larger boats.

“It was decided that originally (the plan was) to raise the bridge four feet at the crest, and they decided on three feet at the crest, which will still allow some taller boats to get through at mid-tide,” Crandley said. “After the entire thing is done, they want to dredge the marina, which will give them a little more below so even at a lower tide a fairly good sized boat can get in.

“We have one marina and it’s hard to get in and out of, so we need several things done to accomplish that.”

After seeing eight plans, the city commission and Levy County seemed to decide on a form of action, but city commissioner Royce Nelson said he still hasn’t seen a finalized agreement and that the city is focusing on the temporary reconstruction.

“They haven’t even come up with a final plan,” Nelson said. “They have about three or four different scenarios that they’d narrowed it down to.”

While rebuilding the bridge will continue as planned, Crandley is hopeful construction and the repairs will commence shortly, so Dock Street and the Cedar Key marina will return to normal.

“When it’s all said and done, it will be a total asset,” Crandley said. “But until it’s all said and done, we’re hoping it doesn’t become a nightmare.”

About Graham Hall

Graham is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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