PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Pinellas County's popular pedestrian bridge over Alt 19 near Orange Street should be replaced by December and reopened by mid-February.
Rust and structural concerns forced county leaders to close the existing pedestrian bridge more than a year ago. Pinellas County transportation leaders originally told ABC Action News a new bridge would open by early Fall.
“It’s super frustrating. We don’t know what’s going on. I haven't seen anyone working on this bridge since it closed,” Karen Zendels-Hagen explained when she called reporter Sarah Hollenbeck looking for answers.
On Monday, her husband watched as a car plowed over an 88-year-old cyclist at the intersection of Alt 19 and Orange Street, which cyclists used to be able to bypass by taking the pedestrian bridge.
“He heard tires screeching and he turned back and looked over and saw a car had hit a cyclist,” she said. ABC Action News contacted the bicyclist, Joseph Mirman, who tells us he was rushed to the emergency room after the crash but is going to be okay.
Zendels-Hagen worries if the pedestrian bridge is delayed any longer, it will happen again.
“They need to do something and they need to do something now,” she elaborated.
We watched as one car after another blew right past the blinking yellow lights Thursday as cyclists waited for an opportunity to cross.
“When they don’t stop it’s heart-stopping for us,” said cyclist Daniel Doyle moments after crossing the intersection. Recently, a car barreled towards him squealing their breaks after missing the blinking yellow crosswalk lights.
“It scared me to death,” he exclaimed.
Pinellas County leaders tell ABC Action News they are working on the new bridge, but it's being built offsite. They plan to bring in large cranes at the beginning of December to start putting the new bridge in place and demolishing the old one.
Here's the schedule, according to Pinellas County Transportation leaders:
- Message boards will go up on approximately Nov. 18 to preview road closure(s).
- The contractor has scheduled resources and cranes to be onsite on Dec. 2.
- The existing bridge will be removed a few days after that, then demolished and hauled away.
- The new bridge will be delivered and set around the second week of December.
- The construction schedule shows a completion date of Feb. 14, 2019.
Zendels-Hagen says it’s imperative they get it done quickly. She's also urging Pinellas County leaders to add additional signs along Alt US-19 to alert drivers to the upcoming crosswalks.