Parts of the historic Seven Mile Bridge are falling into the ocean, making it dangerous for boaters to go near.
This week, the state Department of Environmental Protection placed danger buoys near five sections of cantilever overhang — large beams used to support bridges — near mile marker 41.8 of U.S. 1.
Petty Officer Rosalie Hammond, spokeswoman for U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West, said a concrete portion of the bridge has already fallen and sunk into the ocean.
“Mariners should be aware of safety issues, it’s an old bridge,” Hammond said. “There are five concrete parts. One already fell in, and four more are going to fall in.”
Hammond said boaters should have already been aware of the potential hazards of boating around the bridge.
A Marine Safety Information Broadcast has been issued near positions N 24 41 368 – W 081 12 259 warning boaters of the crumbling concrete.
Dee Ann Miller, deputy press secretary for the state DEP, said the department’s Division of Recreation and Parks is not actively maintaining the bridge, but the agency does monitor it for issues. Miller said local law enforcement and fire-rescue agencies have been notified of the area as well.
An agreement to restore the historic portion of the Seven Mile Bridge was struck last year between Monroe County, the city of Marathon and the state Department of Transportation. As proposed, the state Department of Transportation would pay $57.2 million toward the total cost over 30 years and retain ownership of the bridge. Monroe County would pitch in $14.24 million and the city of Marathon $5.34 million.
DOT Spokeswoman Sandra Bello told the Keynoter in July that construction on the bridge could start March 2016 and be done by September 2017.