By Tony Judnich
MELBOURNE - A groundbreaking ceremony for the realignment of the Pineda Causeway is set for 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14.
The ceremony will take place just south of the Pineda Plaza shopping center, southeast of the causeway and Wickham Road.
Brevard County commissioner Mary Bolin announced the groundbreaking at the commission's Oct. 9 meeting.
"It's a monumental event," she said.
Officials said when completed, the overall Pineda realignment and extension project will provide a four-lane connection between State Road A1A and Interstate 95.
The realigned, four-lane Pineda Causeway will curve south of the Pineda Plaza to Wickham Road and eventually will run west to the interstate. The existing, three-lane section of the causeway north of the plaza will stay open.
The cost of realigning Pineda and extending it to I-95 is estimated at $27 million. County Transportation Engineering Department director John Denninghoff said the state will pay about $12 million of the cost, and the county will pay the rest with impact-fee and gas-tax revenue.
Mrs. Bolin said work on the one-mile, realigned section of Pineda between U.S. 1 and Wickham Road is anticipated to start in January or February and could take about 18 months to complete.
County officials are working with Florida East Coast Railroad and Florida Department of Transportation officials on how the new road will cross the railroad track just east of U.S. 1. County officials propose building a temporary four-lane crossing, and later an overpass across the track once plans and funding are finalized.
A Florida East Coast Railroad permit is expected to be issued after an agreement with the FDOT to fund the overpass is approved, Harriett Raymond, special projects coordinator for the county Transportation Engineering Department, wrote in a report to commissioners.
Commissioners on Oct. 9 approved bidding the realignment project without the permit for the railroad crossing.
"The project would be bid so that the contractor is directed to start construction on that portion of the project west of the FEC railroad and that he would be given a notice to proceed on the remainder of the project, upon receipt of the FEC permit," Ms. Raymond said in the report. "In the event the FEC permit is delayed for any reason, then the widening across the FEC (property) will also be delayed. With or without the FEC permit, the project would provide extensive relief to the traffic congestion currently occurring at Wickham Road and the Pineda Causeway."
Pending approval, construction of the overpass over the railroad track would begin in 2012, with the FDOT providing a little more than $26 million for the work.
Officials said the almost three-mile-long extension of Pineda from Wickham Road to I-95 still has permits pending, but they anticipate construction on this section beginning sometime next year.
An I-95/Pineda interchange is part of the FDOT six-lane widening project of I-95. The FDOT will accept design/build proposals in November for construction of the 22-mile segment of I-95 between Fiske Boulevard and Malabar Road.
Work on this segment could start next year and finish about two or three years later, county officials said.
Contact Tony Judnich at (321) 751-5954 or Judnich@hometownnewsol.com.