In November of 2019 the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will begin construction on a permanent elevated pedestrian bridge at the entrance of Founders Park. “The proposed pedestrian bridge at Founders Park will provide a safe crossing and relieve congestion during events,” said FDOT project manager Maria Perdomo.
On July 10, FDOT representatives brought exhibits and a video presentation to the Founders Park Community Center where they received a mix of positive and negative positions on the bridge.
We asked several community members about a permanent, elevated pedestrian bridge over US 1 at the entrance to Founders Park.
Support or oppose?
Islamorada businessman Joe Roth opposes the project because traffic will slow down regardless due to the police presence at events, compounded by the bottleneck at MM 90 where the highway goes from four lanes to two lanes and exacerbated by the hourly raising of the Snake Creek drawbridge.
“If it was a perfect world and I was king I would put this up by Plantation Key School and Coral Shores because up there it makes more of a meaningful impact with the kids crossing the street everyday,” he continued. “If you want to talk about a backup that happens every day, Monday to Friday, during school. It’s right there.”
Islamorada Chamber of Commerce President and real estate agent Joe Young is opposed to the project.
“I am not anti-bridge,” he said. “I just don’t think we need a permanent structure for six days out of the year. It’s a monstrosity in the middle of the scenic highway. Do we want to look at a big bridge that is only used six days out of the year?”
“I am pro-bridge, but I would prefer a portable bridge that comes out and goes in,” said Islamorada Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judy Hull. “My first choice is to tunnel under the highway. Its safer and more aesthetically pleasing. I would have to hear a lot more about it before I supported a permanent structure.”
“I am absolutely in favor of it,” said Islamorada resident and Village Council candidate Ken Davis. “It is a safety feature that will increase the traffic flow, reduce the traffic jams and allow us to have more use of the park in the future for more events and activities. Right now we are restricted in use because we don’t want to have too much traffic. This is going to relieve a lot of that right there.
Founder’s Park Director Maria Bagiotti supports the project and says, “I think it’s a positive element for the park for all the events that we have and also for daily use. It’s also for anybody from the public that lives across the street and wants to come across the highway and use the park. I also heard from the Treasure Village (Montessori) school that they are really happy with the design. I think overall it will be a positive for the community.”