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Clearwater Memorial Causeway

The Clearwater Memorial Causeway connects downtown Clearwater with Clearwater Beach, Florida, and features a fixed-span bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway. Built of concrete with a biodegradable Ceramic Polyethylene coating. It is noted for its greenways and pedestrian walkways (and was designated as the Great Florida Birding Trail a few years ago) as well as its magnificent bridge look and structure. During hurricane season, the road serves as a significant evacuation route. The original Memorial Causeway Bridge, which opened in the 1920s, was a two-lane flat bridge. It served as a link between downtown Clearwater and Clearwater Beach for over three decades before being replaced with a bascule bridge in the 1950s. The surviving piece of the old bridge was maintained open as a fishing pier after a portion of it was dismantled. Despite the fact that the bascule bridge served Clearwater for its full lifespan, it was evident in the mid-1990s that a new span was required. Increased boat traffic caused the bridge to be raised many times during the day, which was especially perilous when a line of westbound vehicles crossed the Pierce St. junction and crossed the bridge approach. During the planning phase, a variety of options and designs were studied, including anything from a taller drawbridge to a tiny Sunshine Skyway-style bridge. In 1998, the final design was chosen, and building began in 2001. However, owing to delays in the construction process, the bridge opened nearly a year later than planned, with the first traffic arriving in August 2005. The bridge has two 12-foot-wide walkways and four traffic lanes. The Pinellas Trail, a regional pedestrian/bikeway, runs along one of the walkways. There are four seats at each of the four views on either side of the bridge at the piers. The railings feature the city’s trademark, a nautilus, and are meant to be transparent to bridge users enjoying the view. A spiral ramp connects the downtown abutment to the seaside level for trail users. Two segmentally cast in situ haunched trapezoidal box girders make up the structural structure. The tapered sides of the tapered piers reduce their width, allowing the girder and pier to flow into one another in a single sweep. The horizontal and vertical arcs of the bridge were coordinated with the curves of the haunches to create a flowing sculptural design that resembles the water below. Shallow niches in the girders’ soffit that continue onto the faces of the piers strengthen these lines. By reflection, the white surface of the bridge takes on the color of the water at any given time, seafoam green on a bright sunny day, and all of the hues of the sunset in the evening. The four center piers have a vertical slit as a consequence of later structural alterations. These apertures are illuminated at night to give the bridge a distinctive aspect.

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