The tin-tented, recently rust-painted and frequently derided pedestrian bridge over State Road 100 will get its public grand opening celebration the afternoon of September 19, the county announced this week. No shades necessary anymore.
The bridge has been open to foot and cycle traffic since the end of spring when England-Thims & Miller (ETM) completed work on the $12.3 million project (ETM’s portion was $9.9 million). Construction began two years ago. A coat of darkening chemicals was applied to the tipi-like stainless steel tent over the bridge to diminish its reflection’s almost blinding effect at sunup and sundown, depending on which direction one was traveling.
The chemical application has not exactly enhanced the cover, making it look more soiled or confining than breezy. But It was a result of public concerns, and not a small amount of ridicule on social media, about the psychedelic steel’s effects on drivers below. But the attention has also served the bridge at least in giving it some public awareness. (See: “Ugly as Tin, the Glaring, $12 Million Bridge Over SR100 Is Radiating Concerns–and Publicity.”)
If it remains significantly underused, that may not last, considering the massive developments planned on its flanks: Coquina Shores will be a 750-home development rising alongside its two miles of northern trail, and over 1,300 housing units have been approved along Colbert lane, just east of the bridge, with still more units on John Anderson Highway and many more on South Old Kings Road. The county is also planning to build an elaborate tourism and visitor center near the foot of the bridge, at the south end, with ample parking. So these may be the short-lived quieter days for the bridge.
“We are very excited that the pedestrian bridge is open, and we want to celebrate it with the community,” County Administrator Heidi Petito was quoted as saying in a release the county issued. “I’ve been out there and have had the pleasure of meeting people on the trail enjoying the new addition. Some expressed their gratitude the bridge was built because they use the amenity a few times a week.”
The grand opening, taking place on the south side of the bridge, will include a few speeches by government and construction officials. It’ll give the public a chance to walk the bridge or even walk the almost two miles of the trail north of the bridge that goes through Graham Swamp, crossing marshy locations with three boardwalks, and linking up with the Lehigh Tral that goes from Old Kings Road to Colbert Lane. The Flagler Palm Coast High School track team will be first to run over the bridge as part of the ceremony.
The bridge was conceived by Flagler County’s engineering department, with Chief Engineer Faith al-Khatib securing its funding through Department of Transportation grants. When it was presented to the County Commission in 2018, it was to be a $7.5 million project.
For now, it’s still a bridge to nowhere at the south end of the bridge. The county has secured funding to design what will be the remainder of the trail into Bulow State Park, at which time the full trail could become the crown jewel in the county’s network of trails. But construction funding for that segment has not been secured. So for now the bridge leads to a short loop at its south end, back to State Road 100’s sidewalk. That sidewalk connects to Old Kings Road’s sidewalk, enabling cyclists or pedestrians to continue their journey in either direction.
The 650-foot concrete and steel bridge was built with twelve 114–foot-long steel beams to span State Road 100, on top of piers with spread footers. The A-frame-like steel tent, designed by Kissinger Campo and Associates, is intended as an echo of the AS-frame on the Flagler Beach Pier, though for drivers going east or west below, the steel tent looks more like a darkish grill blocking rather than enhancing the surrounding woods.
The county broke down the cost of the project as follows:
- Design/Permitting – $1,478,161.30
- Post Design/ Engineer of Record – $51,381.66
- CEI (Construction, Engineering, and Inspection) – $980,878.12
- Construction – $9,858,121.65
The county is welcoming public participation at the 3:30 p.m. grand opening on Sept. 19, but there is no parking at the foot of the bridge (which is contributing to its limited use). The county is giving prospective participants two options:
- There will be limited parking on county-owned property located just west of the bridge on the south side of State Road 100 – the righthand side of the roadway for those approaching from Interstate 95.
- There will also be parking at the Badcock Shopping Center east of the State Road 100 Pedestrian Bridge with a shuttle bus provided at 3:15 p.m. to ensure the event begins on time.