Making City Bridges Walkable 

Mind the Gap

It began in October, with a presentation to the City Commission (made at the request of Mayor Vince Lago) on the state of the bridges inside of the Gables. “When you drive by a bridge it should not look moldy,” Lago explained to his colleagues. “I am not talking about spending a lot of money here,” he said, but just repainting or pressure cleaning. 

As the presentation unfolded, however, it became apparent that the biggest defect in the city’s bridge system (there are 11 bridges under the city’s juris- diction and another half dozen under the county’s control) was pedestrian access. In photo after photo, it was clear that many of the bridges were simply not accessible. There was a sidewalk across the bridge, which then dropped off, cliff-like, to the grass below. In many cases, there was no sidewalk in the area. “It doesn’t make sense. You are asking people who are handicapped, or who have strollers, to cross the bridge on the actual road,” the mayor remarked. 

City Bridges
Hardee Road Bridge before the upgrade
City Bridges
Granada Boulevard Bridge After the Upgrade

Those defects (at least six city bridges have no pedestrian connectivity) are now in the process of being repaired. At
the commission meeting in December, staff reported that the bridges for Pisano Avenue (near Granada) and for Granada Boulevard (between Alfonso Avenue and S. Alhambra Circle) would soon be accessible by foot, with plans underway next for the Blue Road bridge between 

University and Granada, and the Alhambra Circle bridge near Taragona Drive. Those latter two will require extensive new sidewalks, however; on Blue Road approximately 10,000 square feet of sidewalk is proposed, at a cost of $132,000. As for that bridge, and a second Blue Road bridge (between Orduna and Biltmore drives), city staff spruced them up with pressure cleaning, despite both being county bridges. “They look so good, it’s night and day,” gushed the Mayor. “Even though we are not responsible for their maintenance, this is the way they should look.” 

By: JP Faber