Published: Mar 19, 2014 12:56 PM EDT

MARATHON, Fla. (AP) - State and local officials have agreed to begin a program to conserve part of the historic Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys.
The Monroe County Commission Wednesday approved a 30-year project to restore and maintain a 2.2-mile segment of the bridge between Marathon and Pigeon Key.
The span was built more than a century ago, when Henry Flagler constructed the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad.
In 1938 the bridge was converted for automobiles and in 1982 the Federal government built a new span. "Old 7" was retired and became a fishing pier and walking area, but the harsh marine environment has taken its toll.
Total conservation costs are about $77 million, with the Florida Department of Transportation paying 75 percent and the remaining funding coming from Keys governments.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)