For Full Story: Florida Today

Article By: Rick Neale

 

Construction has begun on a $24 million Pineda Causeway Extension bridge that will elevate motorists roughly 25 feet above the Florida East Coast Railway railroad tracks.

Discussed for a decade, the future four-lane overpass will rise from the U.S. 1 ramps westward, returning to ground level between Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy and Wawa.

“We just issued notice to proceed last Monday. We are looking at a 22-month construction schedule,” said Andrew Holmes, Brevard County public works director.

“There will be two lanes open each direction for most of the project. They’re going to create detour lanes off to the side, and then construct the bridge where the actual lanes are now,” Holmes said.

Financed by the Florida Department of Transportation, the elevated crossing will eliminate traffic tie-ups triggered by freight trains. The causeway serves as a hurricane evacuation route for residents on Merritt Island, South Patrick Shores, Satellite Beach and other beachside locales.

On an average day, 33,120 vehicles drive the Pineda Causeway Extension between U.S. 1 and Wickham Road, Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization records show.

The bridge will be named for retired Maj. General John Cleland, a decorated Army veteran who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. A member of the U.S. Army Infantry Hall of Fame and Florida Veterans Hall of Fame, the Viera resident died last October at age 92.