PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - People have been talking about it for decades in Port St. Lucie. Today it's one step closer to becoming reality.
On Thursday the Federal Highway Administration approved the city's plan to build the Crosstown Parkway extension bridge.
"It's a big sigh of relief to get this because it's just been a lot of work to get here," says Ed Cunningham, Communications Director for the City of Port St. Lucie.
The bridge would cross the St. Lucie River in the middle of the city. It would connect West Virginia Drive to Village Green Drive. The project is popular because it would ease traffic congestion.
"You will be able to get across this city in 6 to 8 minutes," says Cunningham, " You don't have to go 20, 30 minutes down south to a bridge or up north to a bridge. You shoot straight across this Crosstown Parkway."
The idea began to take shape 11 years ago. In 2005 voters approved the $165 million bond referendum to pay for the project. 89% of voters said yes. Cunningham says that's a national record for a referendum.
But critics worry the bridge will damage the St. Lucie River and area wetlands.
"Out of all the routes they could have selected they selected the most ecologically damaging route," says Shari Anker with the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County,"Once it's gone, it's gone."
She says the group has an attorney and they will continue to fight the project. Port St. Lucie still needs permits for construction.
Port St. Lucie will be sending notices out to about 60 property owners on West Virginia Drive. It will need to buy out those owners. The city has already acquired 400 properties for the project.
A meeting on the acquisition process and construction is scheduled on March 26 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Community Center on Airoso Boulevard.