Saturday, August 13, 2016

Your Voice Counts – Let’s Be Involved with Sunset Park

Monday, July 25, 2016

Interview with our President, Bernard Spinrad

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thank You from Friends of Old Seven

Thursday, June 30, 2016

FDOT Schedule of Repairs Commencing July 5, 2016


Friday, June 17, 2016

Old Seven Mile Bridge Closing July 5 for Rehab Project


Enjoy walking or biking the old Seven Mile Bridge? You have three weeks to continue to do so.

The 2.2-mile section of the span that heads from Marathon to historic Pigeon Key, a former railroad-worker camp, is slated to close July 5 so the state Department of Transportation can begin a 30-year rehabilitation project. The bridge was decommissioned in 1982 when the adjacent new Seven Mile Bridge opened. The closure is for 300 days.

The old bridge is riddled with problems, from the decking falling apart to the railings rusting and breaking. DOT closed it to auto traffic in 2008. A few years later, citing dangers caused by excess weight, it closed it to fishing, too. Since then, only pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters have been allowed to use it.

Come the day after Independence Day, they also will not be allowed on the bridge because the first phase of the renovation is $1.98 million worth of work on the underpass that allows people to walk from the old bridge on the bayside down steps under the new span to the oceanside. That means closing the old bridge’s parking lot.

Even though it’s a 30-year rehab project, the bridge won’t be closed for three decades. But it will be closed as work on sections of it are done.

DOT says it’s making the underpass Americans with Disabilities Act compliant; installing pedestrian access ramps on each side of the parking lot; rebuilding bridge access from the parking lot, picnic pavilions and seawall; installing new retaining walls for scenic overlooks along the access ramp; and repaving the parking lot.

It’s the beginning of the rehab, the cost of which is being shared by DOT, Monroe County and the city of Marathon under a deal struck in 2014. Over the 30 years, DOT is paying $57.2 million, the county $14.24 million and Marathon $5.34 million. Marathon’s share is for annual maintenance.

The bridge was constructed from 1909 to 1912 for the Key West Extension of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway. It was converted to automobile use in 1938, three years after the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 wiped out the Keys section of the railroad.

It’s now popular for morning and after exercising, and among tourists who love taking in the view of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. It’s among the Keys’ most popular photo spots.

See article

Friday, June 17, 2016

Old Seven Mile Bridge Work to Start


After roughly two years of planning, work on the first phase of the Old Seven Mile Bridge project is scheduled to start July 5. The work will cost roughly $1.9 million and is scheduled to be completed in April 2017.

The next phase of the bridge project, actual work to reinforce the bridge, is scheduled to start in November 2017 and could take as long as nearly four years…

Friday, January 8, 2016

Bridge Restoration Plans as of 1-8-2016

Below is a summary presentation of Old Seven restoration plans and a short-to-medium-term timeline, as proposed by FDOT.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

DOT: Rehab of old Seven Mile to run from March 2016 to September 2017

July 2, 2014

An agreement struck last year between Monroe County, the city of Marathon and the state Department of Transportation to save a portion of the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge could start bearing fruit in early 2016.

DOT spokeswoman Sandra Bello said the agency is “currently in the design phase” to refurbish the 2.2-mile section of the span leading to Pigeon Key offshore of Marathon.

“The anticipated estimated construction dates are March 2016 to September 2017,” Bello said. “In addition, the department will continue with the routine inspections and maintenance to guarantee the safety of pedestrians.”

Bello said DOT has an agreement in place with Monroe County, which in turn has a separate agreement with the city of Marathon for the project.

Working together isn’t always easy among Keys entities, so the deal to get the iconic bridge repaired was considered a huge victory. It appeared to materialize quickly, though officials were working behind the scenes for some time.

The Monroe Country Commission gave final approval to the $77.5 million spending plan to repair the bridge before a packed Marathon Government Center meeting room in December. The following evening, the Marathon City Council voiced unanimous support for the plan.

The bridge has been closed to auto traffic and fishing for years because the state Department of Transportation has deemed it unsafe.

As proposed, DOT would pay $57.2 million toward the cost over 30 years and retain ownership of the bridge. Monroe County would pitch in $14.24 million and Marathon $5.34 million.

The money would finance everything from a couple of repaintings to repairing the deck to building a new ramp to Pigeon Key

“FDOT does not anticipate changing the bridge aesthetically; we will just be repairing and restoring the bridge,” Bello said of expected design.

Bello said it’s unclear whether fishing would again be allowed from the bridge, but that it would be clear to handle mild vehicular traffic.

“The purpose of this project is to restore safe access to Pigeon Key. The structural capacity of the bridge will be restored to support pedestrian load, typical emergency and service vehicles, and a small passenger shuttle vehicle,” she said.

Friday, April 18, 2014

FO7 Presents Scholarship Opportunity

Pictured are Karen Miller, Finance Director and Hammond Gracy, Principal of Marathon High School along with Friends of Old Seven Board Members Susan & Jerry Chapman and Vice President Mike Puto, presenting a student scholarship to Marathon High School in the amount of $1,750 for precollege and vocational school.

Thanks to the generosity of the Chapmans, and donations from Friends of Old Seven, student applicants will have a chance to win scholarship money by writing an essay titled “Henry Flagler and the Overseas Railway Extension – what it meant to the Florida Keys in the past and what it means today.”

First place winner will receive $1,000, 2nd place $500, and 3rd place $250.

Winners will be announced at Class Night at Marathon High School on June 3, 2014.

Photo by Hodies Photography

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In the Keys, New Plans for an Old Bridge – The New York Times

The New York Times
In Transit – A Guide to Intelligent Travel
April 3, 2014

The Old Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys.

In the Florida Keys, the Old Seven Mile Bridge has been given new life in the form of a $77 million restoration program, approved in late March.

The old bridge, now closed to motorized traffic, dates back to 1912 when railroad magnate Henry Flagler built it as part of the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, which ran from the southern tip of mainland Florida down to Key West.

It was converted as a roadway for auto traffic in 1938 and subsequently replaced by a new, parallel span in 1982, leaving the old bridge to fishermen, bird watchers, strollers and bike riders.

But the South Florida climate, including hurricanes, has hastened the decay of “Old 7,” as it is called by at least one preservation group that took inspiration from the success of New York’s High Line park.

“I saw our guiding light in the High Line and the walkways over the Hudson,” said Bernard Spinrad, board president of the nonprofit foundation Friends of Old Seven. “I thought basically our role should be not only to restore Old Seven Mile Bridge, but make it a world-class attraction.”

The project, expected to start in about two years, will largely be funded by the Florida Department of Transportation with contributions from Monroe County and the City of Marathon.

Despite its name, Old Seven Mile Bridge runs 2.2 miles from Marathon to five-acre Pigeon Key, an original work camp for railroad construction crews.

The discontinuous remainder, long closed, has been left to decay.