By Tamas Mondovics
Members of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, with the help of students from nearby Nelson and Pinecrest elementary schools, along with teachers and local residents attended two consecutive ribbon cuttings, for the recently-completed Durant Rd. Bridge over Turkey Creek and C.R. 39 Bridge over the Alafia River last month. The County spent a combined $7 million in Community-Investment Tax funds to completely replace the two outdated bridges, which, according to County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, were the result of the county’s billion dollar improvement plan.“Safety comes first,” Higginbotham said. “These two bridges—both close to a half-a-century-old—needed no excuse not to be replaced and will provide a much improved traffic flow as well as safety for the nearby schools and residents that use them.”The new C.R. 39 Bridge, located at Alderman Ford Park north of Thompson Rd., passes through the Alderman Ford Nature Preserve.The project began in March of 2008, and cost the county $4.2 million, including the demolition and disposal of the old bridge and construction of a temporary bypass road and temporary bridge. Pinecrest Elementary School Assistant Principal Denise Mobley, who brought a number of students to the bridge dedication, said that many of the children attending the school use the bridge on a daily basis.“Although the construction took a little longer than we had hoped, we know that the bridge is now safe,” Mobley said.Commenting on both bridge projects, County Public Works Director Robert Gordon agreed when he said, “I am pleased with what has been accomplished at both of these bridge sites. They turned out fabulous.” According to county Spokesman Steve Valdez, the county is now focusing on its next bridge project scheduled to begin in early 2010 in Riverview, as part of the Boyette Rd. widening project.Valdez said that the county also looking at several other bridge projects down the road but none scheduled at this time.For more information about other county construction projects, please visit www.hillsboroughcounty.gov.