City says Lakeside bridge replacement to begin this summer

City says Lakeside bridge replacement to begin this summer
The bridge over Lakeside Drive behind Roosevelt Square Mall is slated for replacement beginning this summer.

The annual crop of colorful utility flags has sprung up again along Lakeside Drive between Herschel Street and Wabash Avenue. Like tulips heralding spring, those flags are alerting residents and passers-by of the start of the combined Lakeside Bridge replacement and the Lakeside sidewalk projects.

The bridge project has been on the City of Jacksonville’s radar since 2013. Funding was first approved in May 2015 for $700,000 to replace the existing bridge with a precast box culvert and to realign the roadway to provide a safer travel path by decreasing the turning radius and lowering the elevation. The project will also improve drainage at the intersection with Wabash Avenue, and correct curbing deficiencies.

In October 2018, City Council passed a bill to increase the funding to $1,334,240 for the bridge project, citing the Florida Department of Transportation’s evaluation which indicated the 59-year-old bridge is “structurally deficient and in need of replacement.” The bridge serves an estimated 14,000 trips per day and loss of the connection would be a serious disruption of traffic pattern in the area, according to the 2018 Legislative Fact Sheet which accompanied the bill. 

Additionally, the City’s Public Works Department was originally given a $159,000 budget in 2017 to install sidewalks in that area, a surprisingly heavily-traveled surface street for the few homes and businesses along that 0.3-mile stretch.

The roadway is a popular cut-through from northbound Roosevelt Boulevard for motorists heading toward St. Johns Avenue. Lakeside Drive is also well-traveled by pedestrians and bicyclists from boats docked at the Marina at Ortega Landing at the bottom of Herschel Street as they head to Roosevelt Square Mall. Currently, a sidewalk runs alternately on both sides of Lakeside Drive, with gaps where the sidewalk ends on the east side then zigzags across Lakeside to continue on the west side of the local road.

The sidewalk project is intended to fill in the gaps on both sides of Lakeside Drive, extending the sidewalk the entire way from Herschel Street to Roosevelt Boulevard. The project was put into the 2017 Capital Improvement Plan but was added to the bridge replacement project in late 2018. Sidewalk construction includes final grading and sodding of all disturbed areas for the residences and businesses along Lakeside Drive.

Construction on both projects is expected to begin this summer and be completed in early 2020. JB Coxwell was awarded the project, and the contract is currently being processed, according to Marjorie Dennis, public relations specialist for the City of Jacksonville. “Pre-construction meeting and Notice to Proceed will follow shortly thereafter. A schedule would be provided by the contractor at this meeting.” Dennis also noted road detours have not yet been finalized.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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