Some Bokeelia residents not happy about disposal of old Matlacha bridge
BOKEELIA, Fla. - In the quiet Bokeelia neighborhood of Tranquility Bay, disturbing the peace doesn't go over well.
"The noise, yeah constantly," said Sven Vanbulck, who lives there.
Vanbulck's home is within earshot of a former airstrip. It's where chunks of the old Matlacha Bridge are being trucked in, crushed and stockpiled by Archer Western, a private company contracted by the county.
"I hope we're not going to find lots to dump stuff and let them lay forever," added Vanbulck.
The Lee County Department of Transportation says Archer Western plans to build roadways with the materials. But when and how long the noise goes on for is out of its hands.
"The portions of the bridge that are being trucked out there apparently, the contractor can dispose of the bridge any fashion he chooses," said Randy Cerchie, the deputy director of Lee DOT.
Crews on Matlacha are dismantling the old bridge. Piece-by-piece, they're taking it apart, loading debris onto this barge, then craning it up into a truck that hauls it to the airstrip almost seven miles away.
"My understanding, the bridge will take about a month to demolish maybe a little longer through the holidays," explained Cerchie.
But for Vanbulck, a part-time resident here to relax, any noise that's not Mother Nature's doesn't belong.
"I hope it's a temporary thing," concluded Vanbulck, of Ohio. "I hope it's not a permanent thing. "We're trying to preserve things as good as we can on the island and keep things a little natural."
The Department of Transportation says it expects the old bridge to be cleared by early March. That's when residents and business owners should expect construction to be over.