It was the bridge nobody wanted. At least, that was how it felt to Tad Molas and Adrian Moon when 150 op- ponents packed the house at the first public meeting to discuss replacement plans for Daytona Beach’s Veter- ans Memorial Bridge. “The Daytona Beach com- munity was very attached to their bascule bridge, and there was a strong public desire for the replacement bridge to be of similar de- sign, so as not to change the Veterans memorial bridge: Reimagining the Conventional Arch Bridge
character of the area,” said Moon, who served as the construction proj- ect manager for WSP USA on the project. “The plan was to replace it with a high-level bridge, and there were fears that it would forever alter the landscape of the area compared with a low-profile bascule bridge.” “A high-level bridge was also seen as tougher for the pedestrians and cyclists who used the bascule bridge regularly to cross the canal that separates two parts of the Daytona Beach community,” added Molas, design project manager for WSP. “This was not going to be an easy process … but something worthwhile isn’t always easy. In the end, this bridge benefitted from those early challenges.” Amazingly, a process that began in 2015 with a large crowd of sign- carrying protesters ended with applause, cheers and praise from the same community that is now welcoming its new Veterans Memorial Bridge with open arms. WSP designed the replacement of the bridge along Orange Avenue, which spans Daytona Beach’s Intracoastal Waterway. The new bridge follows nearly the same alignment as the existing bridge, which mini- mized environmental and right-of-way impacts. The $38 million bridge, which is scheduled to open to traffic in July, is the culmination of a concentrated effort to involve the public directly into the design process to create a greater sense of ownership in the project, while still meeting the budget and the needs of the clients, Volusia County and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Save Our Bridge The 1,885-foot-long bridge features a vertical clearance of 65 feet and a horizontal clearance of 125 feet – dimensions required by FDOT and the Coast Guard to accommodate the boats that use the Intracoastal Waterway. It was this height, and the anticipated steep grade that would be neces- sary for the relatively short bridge to clear the channel, that gener- ated the most public opposition. Sure, motorists and pedestrians ex- perienced delays when the drawbridge was activated to accommodate water traffic, but many felt the low profile of the bascule bridge and the unobstructed coastal views were worth this occasional inconvenience. Before they stepped into the first meeting with the community, Molas and Moon knew they had their work cut out for them. But they also had a plan to turn opponents into advocates. “The first thing I set out to do at that meeting was to find the cham- pion of the opposition, talk to her and more importantly, listen to her,” Moon said. “We even went out together to take a look at the original bridge, and by the end of the conversation she was sketching ideas she had for the bridge. Hopefully she left that evening realizing that there was no enemy, and that these guys were here to help.” To help incorporate the community as a partner in design, the county established a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) that included a se- lect but diverse combination of local residents, veterans, business and community leaders and elected officials. Meetings were held a dozen times over the next nine months and were used by Moon and Molos as
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