Group tries to save Seven Mile Bridge

Friends of Old Seven must raise $10M to save bridge

FLORIDA KEYS - It's one of the most famous places to watch a Florida sunset. But the Seven Mile Bridge, built in 1912 as a railroad, may soon close for good unless Friends of Old Seven can save it.

"His (Henry Flagler's) vision was that the ships coming out of the Panama Canal could dock in Key West," said Riet Steinmetz with Friends of Old Seven.

"Without the Seven Mile Bridge and without what Flagler built, there would be no Florida Keys today," said Bernard Spinrad with Friends of Old Seven.

The bridge represents 100 years of history, but after a century of transporting trains and cars, and weathering hurricanes and salt water corrosion, the Seven Mile Bridge appears worn out.

"It has fallen in such disrepair," said Gus Pego with the Florida Department of Transportation.

FDOT spends about $150,000 a year to maintain the bridge for pedestrians.

"We're doing our best to keep it open. There will be a point in time when we may have to close the bridge," said Pego.

Now, Monroe County politicians and Friends of Old Seven are partnering with FDOT to keep the bridge open.

"They have promised a 50 percent contribution to the reconstruction of the bridge, which is going to cost $20 million," said Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent.

The group must raise $10 million to restore the bridge and buy it, but must figure out how.

READ: Friends of Old Seven's plan

"Maybe the timing is just right where we can get some money from the BP settlement," said Neugent.

Members of Friends of Old Seven were seen Tuesday handing out hats to raise awareness about the bridge.

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