Residents say new Matlacha Bridge can't open soon enough
MATLACHA, Fla. - There's only one way in and one way out of Matlacha.
"It's the only way to get to grocery shopping, doctors appointments, hospitals," explained John Patten, of St. James City.
And that's the Matlacha Bridge, which has been under construction for almost two years.
"There's potholes in the street and they've gone over and paved it several times," said Samantha Scott, of Bokeelia, who's been fishing on the bridge for 17 years. "It's just time for a new one. I think it is taking a little bit too long because it is a tiny bridge."
Revamping the Matlacha Bridge began in October 2010. Studies show it cost more to keep repairing it than to build a new one.
Surrounding store employees like Nancy Goodwin, who works at Bert's Pinebay Gallery, know a new bridge is necessary.
"I'm pretty happy with the whole project," said Goodwin.
She just wishes engineers didn't move it a little south.
"I'm wishing they could have kept it in the same place," added Goodwin.
The new Matlacha Bridge will remain two lanes. But it will be four feet wider to make way for shoulders and sidewalks separated by barriers on both sides.
"It's been two years since they said they said they were going to build it and it's a small bridge, it shouldn't take that long," added Scott's fishing buddy, 11-year-old Ashlynne Scalf, of Bokeelia.
They both say the new bridge can't open soon enough.
"I'm really excited for it," said Scott. "I can't wait for it to open."
Planners say to expect traffic delays as the project finishes. The bridge should be completed by November.