MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A Merritt Island bridge next to the Beachline likely won't reopen until 2020 as county officials attempt to secure $3 million to cover the cost of repairing damage sustained during Hurricane Irma last year.
The Sykes Creek Bridge at Sea Ray Drive has been closed to traffic since September, after Hurricane Irma caused severe erosion and scouring around the bridge pilings, which could cause the structure to collapse.
The bridge is not critical for transportation, because there are alternate routes, however it is important for carrying drinking water. There was a risk to a water main along the bridge used by the city of Cocoa to provide water to the barrier islands.
Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish said in March it could have collapsed.
After the hurricane, Brevard County Commission approved an emergency resolution to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to make temporary repairs of the bridge to stabilize the critical water and sewer mains. The $1.3 million in repairs were completed in June to stabilize the water main, but the bridge cannot be used for traffic.
The county is applying for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement for permanent repairs, which has delayed the plans for the project, according to the Board of County Commissioners. The county will likely begin accepting contract proposals for the repairs in the next few months.
County Commissioner Jim Barfield said the process with FEMA is "very frustrating."
The bridge repairs are expected to start in 2019 and could be complete by 2020.
"We have to follow their procedures," Barfield said. "It's mind boggling considering it's going to be 2020 when it's done."
When the project is complete it may look very different than it does now. County officials are talking about whether they want to take the water main pipe and instead run it underneath the water.
In the meantime, those who need access to areas on either side of the bridge can use the Beachline and enter at Courtney Parkway onto Sea Ray Drive or North Banana River Drive.