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- 2012 - October - 15th -

Florida Department of Transportation plans $52.6 million replacement of Sisters Creek Bridge

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Travelers who take Heckscher Drive are preparing for construction of the proposed $52.6 million replacement of the Sisters Creek Bridge by the Florida Department of Transportation.

The department wants to replace the drawbridge, built in 1952, with a high-level bridge just north of the existing alignment. Improvements will include access roads and pond sites.

Construction is scheduled for fiscal 2015-16 but could be moved up to next summer, according to the department. The construction dates have not been determined.

The department’s application with the St. Johns River Water Management District states that replacing the “bascule bridge” with a fixed structure “will allow traffic to evacuate during a hurricane without having to stop due to boat traffic.” A bascule bridge is a drawbridge.

Department spokesman Mike Goldman said 3,600 vehicles a day use the bridge.

“A 1999 geotechnical investigation indicated that this bridge is scour critical, meaning the existing substructure elements could be undermined during a major storm event,” said the application. “Scour critical” means foundations could fail because of erosion.

The project area is 75.4 acres and the length of the project from start to end of construction is 1.244 miles, the district application shows.

Goldman said the department has replaced other movable bridges, including the Acosta and the Fuller Warren bridges Downtown crossing the St. Johns River and the B.B. McCormick Bridge along Beach Boulevard crossing the Intracoastal Waterway.

Also, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers replaced the Palm Valley Bridge, at the Intracoastal Waterway, with a fixed bridge.

“The Sisters Creek Bridge has been classified as structurally deficient, which means the FDOT has to replace or repair it within a reasonable period of time,” Goldman said.

There will be no detours associated with the construction because the new bridge will be built next to the existing structure, he said.

The old bridge will be taken down once traffic begins on the new one.

“There will be obviously a smoother traffic flow since vehicles won’t have to wait for the bridge to open or close,” he said.

“There have also been occasional mechanical issues on the moveable bridge, and those obviously will go away with a fixed bridge,” he said.

He also noted that a new bridge would be better during storm evacuations.

Heckscher Drive is Florida 105 and runs north of Downtown, east along the north bank of the St. Johns River to Florida A1A at Mayport. A section of the roadway was renamed Zoo Parkway.

History shows that the drive was named after New York millionaire August Heckscher who bought property and built a privately owned toll road. The state bought the road in 1944 and it became Heckscher Drive.

Sisters Creek is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, north of the St. Johns River.

$3 million Deutsche Bank project approved

The City approved renovations for Deutsche Bank’s expanded financial services operations in Southside.

The permit shows $2.99 million in tenant renovations for 29,565 square feet of office space in Building 500 at 5022 Gate Parkway, where Deutsche Bank operates among several buildings. Turner Construction Co. is the contractor.

In August, City Council approved Deutsche Bank’s deal to create 260 jobs, with an average wage of $52,722, in return for $1.95 million in City and state incentives.

The bank employs about 1,000 people at the campus already, according to a July 26 Council Research Division legislative summary.

Deutsche Bank said it would make a $10 million capital investment to accommodate the new jobs in technology, front-office and finance functions, according to a news release.

It intends to create the jobs over three years, starting with 50 and then adding 75 the second year and 135 the third year. The jobs would need to be created by Dec. 31, 2016.

The Council summary shows Deutsche Bank occupies 125,000 square feet of space at the Meridian Office Park, where it will expand. The building permit application lists the property owner as Taurus Southern Investments LLC of Winter Park.

The architect is shown as ASD Inc. and the structural engineer is listed as Atlantic Engineering Services, both of Jacksonville.

Daily Record archives show Deutsche Bank celebrated the grand opening of its financial services campus July 23, 2008.

Council approved more than $880,000 in incentives for the bank to choose Jacksonville for the center.

GNC opening in Riverside

The City OK’d the permit for Biltmor Inc. to renovate a 1,353-square-foot store for GNC Live Well at 2025 Riverside Ave., No. 203. It’s a $35,000 build-out.

Eastport center planned

The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing plans for a commercial development at 1241 Eastport Road in North Jacksonville.

Plans indicate a four-story, 80-room hotel and a future phase that could include a McDonald’s and a convenience store.

The 6.87-acre site is at Eastport and Pulaski roads and Sleiman Enterprises is listed as the applicant. The agent is AVA Engineers Inc.

The application shows “future site development to include parking and buildings.”

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

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