The Beckett Bridge Alternatives Workshop will take place Wednesday at the Tarpon Springs Yacht Club, and the issue is on many residents' minds.
The candidates for Tarpon Springs Commission, Seat 4 shared their thoughts on the bridge's future:
"I like the idea of a more modern version of what we have now. During my time on the Heritage Preservation Board, we examined many laws and opinions of what fits in with the city. Sometimes engineers and people with the county like to build these monstrosities, and that does not fit in with what Tarpon Springs is. I would support a replacement of the bridge in its current state, but I am absolutely opposed anything fixed."
"This is such a complex issue and everybody has a piece of it. It's a matter of sitting down all the people concerned or affected and coming up with the best solution. I think we have to fix the situation with a reliable evacuation route. We ought to take a couple steps back before we move forward on it and just really get everybody together so the best decision can be made. It should start with everyone's input and then go from there. The question we need to answer is what do we really need to do to move forward on this thing with the least amount of fall out?"
"Beckett Bridge's future should be left up to the people that are most affected by it, which are the people that live in that area. We have the meeting coming up at the Yacht Club, hosted by Pinellas County, and I encourage people from the community to become more involved in city politics. This isn't up to the city, it's up to the county, but the public she have their voices heard. I don't live in that area so I don't want to make a judgement for that area, necessarily. That impacts their everyday lives. I want to hear what those residents have to say and how they feel about it."
"I have been reviewing the Bridge Manual issued by the Coast Guard and the Army Corp of Engineers and Department of Homeland Security. It is nearly 400 pages long and it basically says the Coast Guard has the final say in any bridge changes, repairs or removal. The Coast Guard needs to be involved more directly and I would hope their input is available at the January 2013 meeting at the Yacht Club. Many years ago there was a bridge collapse at the bridge on US 19 near the Ford Dealership, few people remember or even are aware that happened and there were fatalities. We do not want to see that happen here. But we also do not want to see property, homes and businesses lost to construction of an oversized bridge if it is not necessary. There are alternatives and I think the county will be open to hearing those alternatives. I am hopeful that this is not a way to just build support for a new bridge because there may be funding for it. The Coast Guard should be proactive in this issue and be there in January to discuss the options. The voters will help to determine the direction."
What would you like to see happen to Beckett Bridge? Let us know in the comments below.