Beckett Bridge Project
Development and Environment Study
Recommended Alternative Approved by BCC
Thank you for visiting the project website for the Beckett Bridge Project Development and Environment or “PD&E” Study being conducted by Pinellas County. Funding for this project is provided through the Infrastructure Sales Tax (Penny for Pinellas): Transportation and Traffic Flow, Bridge Rehabilitation Program Allocation, a Federal earmark and a Transportation, Community and System Preservation (TCSP) Program grant. The Federal funds are provided through the referenced LAP Agreement with the FDOT. The objective of this study was to determine the best alternative for improvements to the existing two-lane bridge.
As part of this effort, this website has been created to keep the community informed about the study and to provide an opportunity for community input.
Pinellas County, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), is conducting a Project Development and Environment or “PD&E” Study to evaluate the removal, rehabilitation, or replacement of the existing Beckett Bridge over Whitcomb Bayou in Tarpon Springs. The original bridge was constructed in 1924. The bridge is one of the few highway single-leaf rolling-lift bascule bridges remaining in Florida. The State Historic Preservation officer has determined that the bridge is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Major portions of the original bridge were reconstructed in 1956, with additional repairs in 1979 and 1988. Recent repairs (2011) were performed to correct issues with the operating machinery and the movable bridge span. Major rehabilitation or replacement of the bridge is needed to keep the bridge open and operating efficiently.
The study began in January 2012. A Public Hearing was held on February 26, 2014 to present the Recommended Alternative. The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners approved the Recommended Alternative on April 15, 2014. Technical Documents prepared during the study are currently being finalized. The Recommended Alternative will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration for Approval.
Alternatives to be Evaluated:
- No Build
- No Build with Removal of the Existing Bridge
- Rehabilitation of the Existing Bridge
- Replacement with a New Movable Bridge
- Replacement with a New Fixed Bridge
Additional Information about Alternatives Considered:
- All bridge replacement alternatives considered will be constructed in approximately the same location as the existing bridge.
- No additional travel lanes are proposed.
- The “No-Build” alternative includes only routine maintenance to keep the bridge open to traffic until safety issues would require it to be closed.
- The “No Build with Removal of the Existing Bridge” includes only routine maintenance in the near future with the intent to demolish the bridge when it is no longer safe for traffic.
The selected alternative meets the transportation needs of the community. All reasonable measures were included to minimize impacts to the social, cultural, physical and natural environment. Input from the community and other stakeholders were an important factor in selection of the Recommended Alternative.
Section 106 Documents, which address the impacts to the historic bridge and proposed mitigation, have been approved. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among Pinellas County, the Florida Department of Transportation(FDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) was prepared to address the specific mitigation requirements to offset adverse impacts to the historic bridge, which will be demolished. This document has been signed by Pinellas County and is currently being circulated among the agencies mentioned above for signatures. Stipulations outlined in the MOA include the following:
- The design of the new bridge will be a single-leaf, rolling lift bridge type of similar design and scale to the historic Beckett Bridge.
- Pinellas County will create an aesthetics committee consisting of representatives from the adjacent community, City of Tarpon Springs, Tarpon Springs Historical Society, and FHWA, to serve in an advisory capacity regarding appropriate design elements for the replacement bridge during the design phase.
- Prior to salvage and demolition of the bridge, Pinellas County will document the existing bridge in accordance with the “Historic American Engineering Record” standards. This documentation includes preservation of existing bridge plans and drawings, photographs and a written narrative about the Bridge’s history. Archival copies of the documentation are submitted to the U.S Department of Interior, National Park Service and the SHPO. Additional copies are provided to FDOT, FHWA and to the Tarpon Springs Historical Society.
- Pinellas County will ensure representative significant engineering elements from the Beckett Bridge will be identified and salvaged. These elements may be incorporated into the design of the new bridge, or displayed in a location within the vicinity of the new bridge. The reuse of these historic elements will be determined by Pinellas County in coordination with the aesthetics committee.
- The existing historic bridge plaque will be removed and stored in an area protected from damage until it can be incorporated into the new control house that will be constructed as part of the new bridge. The bridge plaque will be placed on the new control house so that it is visible to pedestrians.
- Pinellas County will ensure that information regarding the Beckett Bridge, which is suitable for inclusion in a website for educational purposes and/or suitable for use on a mobile device, such as the “What Was There” or “Next Exit History” Apps, is developed. This information will provide a historic account of the bridge to educate the public on its history after the new bridge is in place.
- On February 2, 2015 the MOA was signed by all parties and the final Environmental Document was submitted to FHWA for review and approval. On January 25, 2016, FHWA issued Location and Design Concept Approval (LDCA) for this project. As such, FHWA approved the proposed location of the new bridge (along the existing alignment) and the proposed conceptual design of a new two-lane single-leaf, rolling lift bridge of similar design as the existing bridge. The proposed bridge will provide 7.8 feet of vertical clearance over the navigation channel at the fenders in the closed position and 25 feet of horizontal clearance between the fenders. The typical section includes two, 11-foot wide travel lanes with 5.5-foot shoulders that can function as undesignated bicycle lanes. Sidewalks, 6 feet wide, are proposed on both sides of the bridge The proposed bridge will be approximately 19 feet wider than the existing bridge.
Obtaining LDCA was the goal of the PD&E Study. By conducting the Study in compliance with the with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), transportation officials were able to make project decisions that balanced engineering and transportation needs with social, economic, and natural environmental factors. NEPA analysis of environmental impacts is required for all federally funded projects. LDCA paves to way for the County to seek Federal funding for the bridge construction. The County is in the process of initiating the design phase of this project, which is included in the County’s approved Capital Improvement Plan.