DUNEDIN, Fla. — Local leaders, residents and park employees came together to celebrate Honeymoon Island State Park’s 40th birthday, and the honor of being the no. 1 visited state park in Florida.
According to the state, Honeymoon Island gets about 1 million visitors a year.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Wendy Barmore said. “Take a look around. See the beautiful landscape, the pristine natures of this area, and the water. There are many great things to do if you’re a nature enthusiast, or not.”
Barmore is a member of the Rotary Club of Dunedin and a big supporter of Honeymoon Island. She and just about everyone else at the party agree the vital component to the park’s success is the Dunedin Causeway Bridge.
“We couldn’t exist, with the same kind of numbers we have now, without that bridge,” said Bill Francisco, Vice President of Friends of the Island Park.
There is one very big issue with the bridge. It’s nearly 60 years old and in desperate need of repair.
“If they lost that bridge that would be a very hard hit,” said Larry Franklin.
Franklin is the president of the Rotary Club of Dunedin and Friends of the Island Park. He is one of the few who come out here several times a week.
“That bridge is vital, especially for the people who live in the condos,” he said. “We just have to hope they can maintain it till the replacement is put in place.”
County commissioners approved the replacement project back in 2018. The plan is to build a mid-level movable bridge with two lanes and add a new low-level fixed tide relief bridge. The project is expected to cost about $80 million.
County commissioners are now hoping to get state lawmakers to help them secure federal funding from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill.
“I’m in favor of that,” Francisco said. “It’s not optional at this point. The bridge has reached its limit of operational feasibility.”
Commissioners are expected to discuss and vote on this at their Dec. 7 meeting.
The bridge replacement project isn’t scheduled to start until 2025.