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No Walking Over The Overseas Highway: State Cancels Pedestrian Bridge, At Islamorada Council's Request

A rendering shows the proposed bridge for pedestrians over the Overseas Highway in Islamorada.
Florida Department of Transportation
The Islamorada Village Council approved the pedestrian bridge in 2018 and work has begun, but a newly elected council said the village didn't want or need the bridge.

The state has already spent nearly $1 million on building the first pedestrian bridge over the Overseas Highway in the Keys. But now the state has scrapped the project, at the request of the Islamorada village council.

Traffic along the Overseas Highway has been getting heavier and heavier in recent years. One of the chokepoints is in Islamorada, where the only road linking the Keys goes from four lanes to two.

The state proposed one way to ease traffic and increase safety — a pedestrian bridge that would let people walk over the highway at Founders Park, at mile marker 87 on Plantation Key. The public park has tennis and pickleball courts, a pool and amphitheater and hosts several popular events every year.

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The village council approved the project in 2018. But there was a total turnover of the council after the November election. Last month, the new council said the village didn't want or need the pedestrian bridge.

"It's inconsistent with our community character and serves no purpose but to dominate our skyline," said Mayor Buddy Pinder at the Jan. 14 meeting.

The council voted unanimously to send a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, asking him to cancel the project.

Now, the state has agreed — even though it's already spent $1.2 million on structural plans and moving water and power lines. The total project cost was estimated at $4.7 million.

"FDOT worked closely with the Village of Islamorada in the development of this project during which the Village consistently supported the pedestrian bridge," wrote Department of Transportation District 6 Secretary James Wolfe in his letter to Pinder. "This change of position is unfortunately timed, causing a loss of public funds. We look forward to working with you more successfully on future projects."

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Nancy Klingener was WLRN's Florida Keys reporter until July 2022.
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