Construction work for a long-anticipated pedestrian bridge crossing over State Road 100 began July 26. When completed, the bridge will link the Lehigh Trail, Old Kings Road sidewalk, conservation lands, and the Flagler County’s Bulow “Parcel D” property.
Funding for the $9.48 million construction project that was awarded to Masci General Contractors, the lowest bidder, will largely come from federal sources. England, Thims and Miller is under contract to perform the construction, engineering, and inspection services.
The process for the project – that spent years on the Florida Department of Transportation Alternative Priorities ranking list (also referred to as TAP projects) – began in 2018 when the Board of County Commissioners approved the $1.5 million design phase, also paid without the use of local tax dollars.
“The Engineering Department works very hard to plan ahead to meet the wants and needs of our community,” said County Engineer Faith Alkhatib. “It’s better to plan for the future, rather than react once the need is there. We know our residents embrace Flagler County’s outdoor amenities and trails.”
The project includes the construction a 1.6 mile paved “shared-use” path – 12 feet in width – that will go through the Graham Swamp Conservation Area from just south of State Road 100 to the Lehigh Trail. It includes an enclosed pedestrian bridge spanning the four-lane divided highway that will provide a critical connection to serve pedestrians and bicyclists.
Kisinger, Campo and Associates completed the design.
“The design approach was to build a unique, one-of-a-kind structure that would enhance the State Road 100 corridor leading to Flagler Beach,” said Project Manager Amy Stroger. “The inspiration for the design was drawn from the A-frame shape of the Flagler Beach Pier.”
The project also includes the construction of an 8-foot wide concrete sidewalk along the south side of State Road 100 from Old Kings Road to the west of the shared-use path and the pedestrian bridge.
“There are always two phases to the projects on the (FDOT Transportation Alternative Priorities) list – the design phase and the construction phase,” Alkhatib said. “FDOT doesn’t provide all of the funding for a project at one time. They give you time to work on the design, and then in couple of years – if all goes well – they come back and give you money for construction.”
Having projects thought out and ready for the future is key bringing state and federal monies to Flagler County.
“If you don’t have a list prioritized and approved by the Board (of County Commissioners), then you lose out on the opportunity to provide additional amenities to our community,” Alkhatib said.
Each year, the Engineering Department updates two lists for FDOT’s five fiscal year plans: the Transportation Alternative Priorities, which includes projects like this pedestrian bridge that focus on improvements that create alternatives to transportation for the non-motorized user; and, the Five-Year Work Program Project Priority List that includes paving, resurfacing, and reconstruction of roadways, as well as traditional bridge replacement among other projects.
Two other pedestrian bridges are listed on the Transportation Alternative Priorities for fiscal years 2022/2023 through 2026/2027.
The first one – priority two of 10 – proposes spanning U.S. 1 near Old Kings Road to connect the Florida Agricultural Museum to the trail leading to the historic Hewitt Sawmill. The second – priority nine of 10 – proposes spanning U.S. 1 near Royal Palms Parkway to connect the Lehigh Trail with an anticipated trail going west into Putnam County.
“We know there are big plans being discussed for the Ag Museum, and a pedestrian bridge at that location would enhance them,” Alkhatib said. “A bridge at the other location means that eventually there would be a trail system that could take you from Volusia all the way through Flagler into Putnam County. That would be amazing.”