The John Singletary Bridge on US 98 has been a vital part of the community since 1931. The bridge received its name from John Singletary, Polk County Commissioner from 1927 to 1931, who was from Fort Meade and instrumental in getting the bridge built.
Although most Fort Meade residents can’t remember life without the 92-year-old structure, they are excited for the construction of the new bridge because of the planned enhancements.
The new bridge not only brings much needed wider lanes to address near-miss crashes but facilitates a pedestrian connection to the SUN Trail encouraging eco-friendly transportation options. It includes a bicycle path and sidewalk for pedestrians, replacing the narrow sidewalk on the existing bridge and extends beyond the bridge to link the Peace River Trail on the north and south sides of US 98.
Major flooding issues during significant storm events on the east side of the Peace River will be addressed with a longer and higher bridge spanning over the Peace River and a tributary of the Peace River located east of the waterway.
Though the city of Fort Meade is a small community, its economic impact is powerful providing a vital east-west trucking link across Florida. The location of the bridge saves time and expenses, avoiding a 15-mile detour to the nearest crossing.
The natives will tell you that this project has been a long time coming and they are ecstatic about seeing this project come to fruition since interest to renovate the bridge spans as far back as the early 70s.
The FDOT conducted a Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) study between 2013 and 2018. The existing bridge was constructed in 1931 and its narrow width makes it functionally obsolete.
On Friday, November 3, the public helped celebrate the start of construction of the US 98 John Singletary Bridge Replacement at the Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area, off U.S. Highway 98.
Speakers John Kubler, FDOT District One Director of Transportation Operations, Melony Bell, Florida House of Representatives District 49, Bill Braswell, Polk County Commission Vice Chairman, and James Watts, Fort Meade Mayor shared their experiences and thoughts on the new bridge.
The new bridge will have:
- Two 12' lanes replacing the current 10' lanes
- A 12' wide multi-use path on the south side of the bridge
- A 6' wide sidewalk on the north side of the bridge
- Bicycle lanes 7' wide in both directions
- 112 concrete piles supporting the new structure
- Concrete barrier separating vehicles from pedestrians
- Railing that mimics the historic design of the John Singletary Bridge
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Crews will be taking delivery of materials, setting pier caps and girders, working on drainage, pouring new curb and gutter, and building the temporary trestle bridge. Motorists should expect intermittent lane closures from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.