Ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrates new S.R. 44 Bridge and promotes public involvement

December 20, 2023

Engaging the public is an essential part of projects. To connect our clients and communities throughout Florida, EXP provides public information services for six Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) districts.

The EXP community engagement team recently organized and executed a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the FDOT State Road (S.R.) 44 Bridge over the St. Johns River in FDOT District 5.

The S.R. 44 Bridge is one component of FDOT’s $47 million bridge replacement project. The fixed-span structure has a vertical clearance of 45 feet and provides a vital gateway between Volusia and Lake Counties. With a fixed-span bridge in place, and a higher clearance for boats in the water below, traffic on the bridge will no longer need to pause to allow boats to pass on the Saint Johns River. The project also included improvements to access roads around the bridge, a new traffic signal at State Road 44 and County Road 42, a multi-use path on the bridge and two stormwater management ponds.

The ceremony started with the Costa River Queen riverboat going under the original bascule bridge one final time, to honor the long history of steamboats sailing on the St. Johns River. Closing the ceremony was a classic car parade, led by DOT 1 – FDOT’s vintage 1929 Ford Model AA truck.

Transportation projects impact people and communities, making public engagement and awareness key components in their success. The planning, coordination and execution of the event were led by EXP’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Britney Jones.

“This ribbon-cutting ceremony allowed us to connect FDOT with the surrounding community and showcase the work our client has done to improve the area. Our communities are at the core of our work, and it is our responsibility to act as a dependable source of information and receive their feedback,” said Britney Jones.

Other coordination included corresponding with local stakeholders, FDOT officials and county officials to secure their involvement, coordinating Maintenance of Traffic plans with the project team and developing event plans, materials and themes. Daniel Bearer, EXP Planner, contributed graphic design services through the creation of historical display boards and an informational brochure for attendees.

EXP serves as the prime consultant providing public information services for FDOT District Five construction projects. A team of five full-time community outreach coordinators provide in-house public information services for six FDOT Operation Centers throughout Central Florida.

“As the EXP Project Manager for this contract, my role is to not only manage our staff of community outreach coordinators but also to support each of them in the planning and execution of major events such as ribbon cutting and groundbreaking ceremonies,” said Community Outreach Senior Specialist Michelle Simmons.

This successful coordination of public involvement strengthens our relationship with our client and facilitates community ownership among the public.

View the event here: State Road 44 Bridge Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Learn more about EXP’s community engagement team.

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