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.