FALL OPENING MARKS NEW TRADITION
By Danielle Dodder
A projected fall completion of the Judge Jolley Bridge has more than local motorists excited. The prospect of a new bridge has become a challenge Southwest Florida runners have been chomping at the bit to take on, something the city of Marco Island is leveraging to create what they hope will be a cherished annual event.
Roger Raymond is a local fitness educator, avid runner and member of the Gulf Coast Runners group. “The challenge of running a new bridge for the first time is always exciting. The uniqueness of it will bring runners.” He adds that area runners have long eyed the bridge for a prospective race. The Gulf Coast Runners, City Parks and Recreation and the Island Parks and Recreation Foundation pulled that notion into the first annual Jolley Be Good 5K Run, to be held on November 19 upon the bridge’s official completion.
Although planners anticipate over 500 runners for the run, City Special Events Planner Debbie McCabe emphasizes that the event will have attractions for everyone at Veterans’ Memorial Park, including music, food and a “fun walk” around the Veterans’ Park path.
Island Parks and Rec Foundation President Terri DiSciullo adds, “We are thrilled that we could partner with the city to help raise money to advance programming and special events in the city.” The Marco Island Marriott, among others, has signed on as an event gold sponsor but the Foundation is welcoming additional sponsors and donations. All proceeds from the event will go towards funding city programming for the community.
Debbie Tower, public information officer at Florida Dept. of Transportation, explained that traffic will shift to a north and southbound lane on the new span this week. “We’ve rounded the corner, however we want drivers to know that they need to use care as there will still be workers next to traffic.” She adds that no further work will be needed for the old span because, “FDOT completed a $5 million rehabilitation in 2009 that extends the service of that span for 15 to 20 years.”