New bike lanes coming near site of tragedy

Posted at 5:48 PM, Apr 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-04 19:12:07-04

Phil Matson spends most weekends on his bike, sometimes heading over the 17th Street Bridge in Vero Beach. He's currently head of the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

“We’re looking for better improvements for bicyclists any opportunity we can get," said Matson Monday.

He’s thrilled that the Florida Department of Transportation plans to widen 17th Street between US 1 and the bridge to add a 7-foot bike lane on both sides of the road and help cyclists get around downtown Vero Beach.

“It’s better for the bicyclists to feel protected or a better sense of security and better for the drivers too to know that they’re going off their area and into the bicycle lane," said Matson.

Almost two years ago, 16-year-old Cole Coppola was riding on the bridge late one night when he was hit by a car and thrown into the lagoon.  That prompted safety concerns about the bridge.  Since then, raised reflectors on the pavement were added by the Florida Department of Transportation. So you won’t see new work done on the bridge.  You won’t see any concrete barriers separating the bike lane from the travel lane.

That particular bridge is a long bridge and those concrete barriers weigh a lot and that bridge is not designed to accommodate all that additional concrete weight on it," said Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Barbara Kelleher.

Work on the $1.6 million project begins next summer and should wrap up in about a year.