Garcon Point Bridge
|Garcon Point Bridge|
|Carries||2 lanes of SR 281|
|Locale||Santa Rosa County, Florida|
|Maintained by||Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority
|Design||Segmental box girder|
|Total length||18,425 feet (5,615.9 meters)|
|Width||40 feet (12.2 meters)|
|Number of spans||127|
|Clearance below||65.6 feet (20 meters)|
|Toll||$7.50 each way|
The Garcon Point Bridge is a 2-lane toll bridge in Santa Rosa County, in the Florida panhandle. The bridge generally runs north - south and connects U.S. Route 98 east of Gulf Breeze, Florida to Interstate 10 and U.S. Route 90 west of Milton, Florida. The road and bridge uses the TOLL 281 shield on signage from US 98 to I-10. North of I-10 the road is signed solely as State Road 281. Exit signs on I-10 display both the State Road 281 and TOLL 281 shields. The bridge crosses East Bay, a large section of Pensacola Bay and serves as an evacuation route during a hurricane watch.
Due to the reputation of being a pet project of former Florida House Speaker Bolley "Bo" Johnson, D-Milton, who later went to federal prison for tax evasion, the bridge project was nicknamed "Bo's Bridge". It was completed in 1999 and in 2000, the Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority asked for an $500,000 loan from the state despite having to delay paying back previous multi million dollar loans from the state. The loan was later denied in 2001.
In 1996, URS Greiner Woodward Clyde, a consulting firm, made traffic volume projections based on the assumption that the Garcon Point Bridge would have traffic similar to a nearby bridge to Destin, a popular beach resort instead of the subdivisions that it actually connects. In 2000, the average daily traffic was only 3500 vehicles a day, far from the 7500 that URS projected. In 2000, Arthur Goldberg, the URS vice president who wrote the estimates for the Garcon Point Bridge, told the St. Petersburg Times, "We now know that [we were wrong about the estimates]. I don't think the Garcon Point Bridge will ever get back to the forecast we made for it in 1996."
Odebrecht-Metric, the construction company who built the bridge, illegally dumped construction waste during the project, resulting in a $4 million fine for the company for violating the federal Clean Water Act. Three supervisors pled guilty and paid $1,000 in fines and served a probation.
Tolls and Proposed Rate Increase
There is one toll plaza at the north end of the bridge. Tolls may be paid with cash or with the SunPass electronic toll system. As of October, 2014, the one-way cost for the toll for a 2-axle vehicle was $3.75. SunPass users that cross the bridge 30 times per month currently receive a credit for 50% of toll cost. In November, 2014, the trustees of the bridge project proposed raising the bridge toll to $5 each way and reducing the discount given to frequent users. 
- FDOT Florida Traffic Online
- "Ex-speaker guilty of tax evasion". The Florida Times-Union 12 May 1999. Retrieved 4 May 2010
- Pittman, Craig. "Flawed figures leaves toll roads running flat". St. Petersburg Times 16 Jul 2000. Retrieved 4 May 2010
- Barron, Kelly. "Roads Less Traveled". Forbes 3 Sep 2001. Retrieved 4 May 2010
- Pittman, Craig. "Bridge inspectors unscathed". St. Petersburg Times 11 Jun 2001. Retrieved 4 May 2010
- "Garcon Point Bridge toll could go to $5". http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2014/11/14/garcon-point-bridge-toll-go/19037733/.