MARCO ISLAND, Fla - It's your money and the price for safety is front and center at the Marco Island City Council. City leaders voted unanimously Monday night against spending more than $11 million to replace the Smokehouse Bay Bridge.
But residents say the bridge is no longer safe for pedestrians, drivers or boaters underneath. The bridge was built in the 1960's. It has been deemed functionally obsolete. For city leaders it's not a question of if they'll fix it but how and at what cost.
The Smokehouse Bay Bridge and a multi-million dollar replacement project are at the center of debate in Marco Island. "In terms of boating, it's a mess underneath," says one Marco Island resident. "I'd be fearful of chunks of plaster falling down."
Suzanne Piro says, "it's not a safe bridge for pedestrians or for bikers. There isn't a big enough pathway."
Having already spent $2 million on the design city leaders were originally told it would cost approximately $8 million to build, so they were shocked and disappointed to see the bids come back 45 percent higher.
"The most recent cost of $11 million with those big curved iron railings they're hideous and secondly they're incredibly expensive," says one Marco Island resident.
Monday night, council said no to the high price tag and sent staff back to come up with a basic bridge, one with no arches and with the purpose of getting people from point A to point B.
"I would like a nice basic bridge that is safe for pedestrians, drivers and for boaters that has some decent lighting."
While most seemed happy with the decision to go back to simplicity, others felt a larger sense of urgency. Irv Povlow says," you have to reevaluate this but hopefully they can get a decision and hopefully the bridge won't collapse."
Council asked staff to come back with an update in a month and new bids by November.