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Coral Gables

Cocoplum bridge in Coral Gables ready for pedestrians and cyclists

 

hcohen@MiamiHerald.com

For some, it was a bridge too far.

As the new bridge at Cocoplum Circle over the Coral Gables Waterway revealed its shape and design last fall, Mary Anne Martinez, whose home on Edgewater overlooks the waterway and the new coral-red bridge, complained that the bridge was “a monstrosity” that blocked her view.

“It’s a train trestle, is what it is. Looks like we live in a freight yard. If they give me a schedule I’d know when the train is coming,” she said.

But the county, which owns the land, wanted to put the new 12-foot-wide, 162-foot-long, two-colored concrete deck over the water here to service pedestrians and cyclists who previously had to use a vehicular bridge at Le Jeune Road with narrow passage.

The Cocoplum project is near completion, awaiting final electrical inspection on some of the components, said Antonio Cotarelo, interim county engineer/assistant director for construction and maintenance with Miami-Dade Public Works and Waste Management Department. The south side of the bridge will eventually spill into Coral Gables’ Ingraham Park which is currently being redeveloped by the city and should be done in November.

Otherwise, the bridge, which cost $527,000 and is one part of a $1.3 million county project that will expand and resurface the bike trail from Southwest 216th Street in Cutler Bay to the Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne, is open to pedestrians and cyclists.

“The issue at that bridge, why it was needed and adjacent to the bridge for Le Jeune crossing the Coral Gables Waterway, is that that bridge had no facility for pedestrians or bikes. It is two- to three-feet wide and there’s nothing for cyclists. This improves, significantly, safety for the area and allows cyclists and pedestrians to go over the bridge away from the traffic.”

The Le Jeune bridge, which is parallel to the new Cocoplum crossing, remains open for vehicular traffic.

As to the design, which includes decorative light poles on the structure, the coral-red steel truss, benches and a pathway of coral and beige meant to evoke a cocopalm tree’s fronds and its root system, Cotarelo said that the county held numerous public meetings to discuss the bridge. More than 2,300 notices were sent to addresses in the area.

“As with many things we do, there will be some people who like and some who don’t,” he said. “This bridge has decorative features like the red-coral color that is typical of Coral Gables. Some feel that it is huge and covers their view. But we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. Once the park is open, people will notice the difference.”

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.

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