Cooks Bayou Bridge completion date pushed back, residents aggravated

The loss of the roadway during construction was only one of residents' grievances. (WJHG/WECP)
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) Off East Highway 22 in Bay County, the Cooks Bayou Bridge inches closer to completion.

"Right now we are looking at a completion date of December 13. If you look at the pictures, the bridge is substantially complete," Bay County Director of Public Works Keith Bryant said.

After being already delayed, the bridge was expected to be completed in late October.

Residents said they were under the impression the causeway would remain open for cars to pass through, but the bridge became unstable.

"We noticed substantial movement of the causeway when we were driving the piles and had to close the causeway," Bryant said.

The loss of the roadway during construction was only one of residents' grievances.

From the beginning phases of construction to the end, residents said they never received proper communication about the project.

"A little more communication would have been great," Cook Bayou Community resident John Neumann said.

"Maybe a quarterly update via email, Facebook, just a sign giving progress or delays," Airpark resident Wayne Risinger said.

Residents have seen their commutes double, or even triple, in length.

"I figured I've added about 20,000 miles to our vehicles over the past year and a half," Neumann said.

They also believe the detour on Old Allanton Road is unsafe.

"Old Allanton even on a dry day is becoming really ruddy. Lots of depressions make it tough, I mean you really have to watch what you're doing," Risinger said.

Bryant pointed out "safety has to trump everything else."

If the current completion date proves true, the road to an easier commute may seem like a Christmas gift to residents.

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