News

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Restored Old Seven Bridge is OPEN!

Keys Weekly Newspaper

In arguably the most highly anticipated opening in recent memory, officials from Monroe County, the City of Marathon, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and other community partners gathered together with the Pigeon Key Foundation and Friends of Old Seven to cut the ribbon and officially welcome the public back to the renovated Old Seven Mile Bridge. The reopening of the bridge, closed since July 2016, marks the early completion of a massive renovation project. The 30-year restoration and maintenance program was budgeted at $77 million, $41 million of which was spent to complete initial repairs.

Restoration work for the bridge that was once called the “eighth wonder of the world” included three coats of paint for a rust barrier, primer and top coat, replacement of thousands of rusted metal plates and rivets, and installation of a new aluminum rail system. To ensure structural integrity, hydraulic jacks were used to lift 10-foot sections of the bridge, cut out the original 1936 I-beams, and install brand new beams manufactured on site.

“I am absolutely elated,” said Bernard Spinrad, board president of Friends of Old Seven, the organization that united to lead the charge and save the old bridge. Thanking the county, the City of Marathon, and the DOT, Spinrad celebrated the “successful public-private partnership, the fruits of which we witness today.”

BY THE NUMBERS:

To help Keys Weekly better understand the enormous scope of Old Seven’s renovation, FDOT kindly provided these approximate numbers regarding material costs and labor statistics. Here’s what we learned:

2,017: Number of days the bridge was closed between July 5, 2016 and its Jan. 12, 2022 reopening

15,000: Gallons of polyurethane epoxy and color used to paint the outside of the bridge. The restored bridge’s official color is Federal Standard 15187, also referred to as “Federal Blue.”

2,586,190: Pounds of steel used in the replacement of I-beams and panels during the renovation.

700,000: A rough tally of the man-hours devoted to the project. If one worker labored 24/7, the project would have taken 79.9 years.

20,960: Linear feet of aluminum railing used to line both sides of the bridge.

$43,015,550: Final cost of the initial construction phase of the project.

$7,292: The amount budgeted per linear foot of bridge for repairs and maintenance throughout the project’s duration.

80: Approximate number of employees working on the bridge on any given day.

1,100: The number of ten-foot sections of the bridge raised to replace I-beams and other compromised support structures underneath.

36,000: The weight of each raised section in pounds.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Bridge Opens Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Saturday, December 18, 2021

(ALMOST) READY & WAITING: OLD 7 MILE BRIDGE NEARS COMPLETION

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Florida Keys News

We’re almost there. Seriously.

The long-awaited completion of the Old 7 Mile Bridge project is just around the corner. Since July 2016, when it closed for renovations, most Marathon residents (or Keys residents, for that matter) have been asking the same questions about Old Seven. Stop us if you’ve heard these before: “When will it be finished?” “What’s taking so long?” “What are they even doing?”

“At this point, I honestly should just get shirts made with all those answers,” said Kelly McKinnon, executive director of Pigeon Key. There may be no better source of information than the man whose island is quite literally attached to the project.

Originally scheduled as a four-year $41 million project, October 2022 would mark the end of the estimated project timeline from when bridge work actually commenced. The estimated completion eventually moved up to a March-through-May 2022 target date, and as it stands now, McKinnon said the new timeline should open the bridge “shortly after the new year.”

And while most may not realize the full scope of the project beyond the new paint job visible from the active 7 Mile Bridge, the work done to the old bridge was enormous.

In addition to three separate coats of paint for a rust barrier, primer and top coat, the construction crew used hydraulic jacks to lift the entire bridge, one 10-foot section at a time. “They thought they might be able to replace just some of the steel I-beams that are the support structure of the bridge,” explained McKinnon. However, upon further inspection, the original 1936 I-beams were understandably in rougher shape than expected. “Once they got under there, they quickly made the call that they were going to have to replace every single one.” 

New I-beams were manufactured on site and slid under each raised bridge section before the jacks lowered it back into place. For those counting at home, covering the two-mile span from the shoreline to Pigeon Key required repeating this entire process well over 1,000 times.

The work didn’t stop there. Among other smaller improvements, thousands of rusted metal plates were removed from below the bridge deck, with rivets so rusted and rotted that they had to be popped off and remanufactured. A new aluminum rail system was also installed inside the old railings to bring the bridge up to code and ensure pedestrian safety.

“The layperson with the naked eye has no idea about the monumental project these guys undertook,” said McKinnon. “The fact that they got it done when they got it done is unbelievable. They even wrapped the entire bridge in long sections and made certain that when they were working, nothing got into the natural environment.”

While McKinnon, like others, is chomping at the bit to welcome visitors back to Pigeon Key via the traditional bridge passage, he cautioned that unauthorized early visits to the bridge will only ruin finishing touches in progress and slow the opening down. “Despite the way it looks, there is no access currently,” he said. “Contractors are doing everything they can to block it off, and folks who are consciously going around barriers to get onto the bridge aren’t helping the project get done any sooner.”

Keys Weekly also reached out to FDOT for an update on the bridge, but has not received a response as of press time. 

The moral of the story is, just wait. It’ll be worth it.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Completion Date is now March 2022!

Latest report from FDOT moves the completion date from May to March 2022.

Old Seven Mile Bridge Project

SR 5/US 1/Overseas Highway/Old Seven Mile Bridge from Knights Key to Pigeon Key (MM 46.8 to MM 44.6) (Contract # E-6L23)
Start Date: September 2017
Estimated Projected Completion: March 2022

PLANNED ACTIVITY: The contractor will continue coating steel structures and installing aluminum handrails this week.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Old Seven Mile Bridge Project – delayed again until May of 2022

05/07/2021

From FDOT:

SR 5/US 1/Overseas Highway/Old Seven Mile Bridge from Knights Key to Pigeon Key (MM 46.8 to MM 44.6) (Contract # E-6L23)
Start Date: September 2017
Estimated Projected Completion: May 2022

PLANNED ACTIVITY: The contractor will continue performing deck repair work as well as steel repair work under the bridge this week.

Friday, September 25, 2020

FDOT latest report states a March 2022 completion date for Old Seven

Work Continues Under Old Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon
 
SR 5/US 1/Overseas Highway/Old Seven Mile Bridge from Knights Key to Pigeon Key (MM 46.8 to MM 44.6) (Contract # E-6L23)
Start Date: September 2017
Estimated Projected Completion: March 2022
 
PLANNED ACTIVITY: The contractor will continue performing deck repair work as well as steel repair work under the bridge this week.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Completion date currently February 2022

Work Continues Under Old Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon

Bridge Repair/Rehabilitation Project: SR 5/US 1/Overseas Highway/Old Seven Mile Bridge from Knights Key to Pigeon Key (MM 46.8 to MM 44.6) (Contract # E-6L23)
Start Date:September 2017
Estimated Projected Completion: February 2022

Friday, June 21, 2019

Completion date set back another month

6/21/19
From FDOT:
Bridge Repair/Rehabilitation Project: SR 5/US 1/Overseas Highway/Old Seven Mile Bridge from Knights Key to Pigeon Key (MM 46.8 to MM 44.6)
Project Start: September 2017
Estimated Projected Completion: December 2021

Friday, March 1, 2019

Restoration of Pigeon Key Ramp Begins

by Free Press Staff

PIGEON KEY — Construction has begun on Monroe County’s $2.36 million, grant-funded project to rehabilitate the 1938 Pigeon Key ramp. The project is expected to take 270 days to complete, according to county officials. The ramp — built with timber, concrete and steel — connects the Old Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key, providing the primary access to the island for pedestrians, bicyclists and emergency vehicles. The Monroe County Commission last week approved up to $22,149 for archeological personnel who are required by the State Historical Preservation Office to monitor the work. The ramp is part of the Pigeon Key Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 5-acre Pigeon Key was used as a base camp in the early 1900s for railroad workers building and later operating the final installment of Henry Flagler’s Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway.

The ramp replacement construction plans maintain the overall appearance and basic design of the original structure built eight decades ago. The project is funded with a nearly $2.16 million Transportation Alternative Program grant from the Florida Department of Transportation and $200,000 from the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, which serves as the local match. The commission last week also approved a $165,000 task order with Bender & Associates Architects for a repair and restoration project for the historic commissary building and honeymoon cottage on Pigeon Key. Both buildings were severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. The task order is funded by a TDC District Advisory Committee III bricks and mortar grant. The task order includes updating the 1993 Historic Structures Report at Pigeon Key. An updated report will assist the county in obtaining grants for future restoration projects.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Refurbishment of bridge on schedule

BY JILL ZIMA BORSKI
Free Press Contributor

MARATHON – The contractor working on the Old Seven Mile Bridge refurbishment is currently continuing steel repair work, as well as concrete spall repair work under the bridge. According to Kelly McKinnon, executive director of the Pigeon Key Foundation, the bridge refurbishment is on schedule,although completion remains three years out.

Mike Puto, foundation vice president, said the Florida Department of Transportation appears to be doing a good job with the project that stretches from Knight’s Key to Pigeon Key based to staff reports shared at the foundation meetings. 

The roughly two-mile bridge repair and rehabilitation project began Sept. 25, 2017. Work to be performed includes:
• repairing concrete columns;
• repairing steel beam including painting;
• removing retired water main;
• repairing the bridge deck;
• installing pedestrian/ bicycle railing; and
• adding signs and pavement markings along the bridge.

Pedestrian access to the bridge as well as the underpass are prohibited during the project. Some areas such as the pavilion park and 10 parking spaces can be safely accessed. The estimated completion date is October 2021 at a cost of $38 million.