The Bridge of Lions is one of the most recognizable and beloved sites in St. Augustine. It's one of my favorite places. In recent years, it's also been one of the most controversial.
After a 1999 Department of Transportation report declared the bridge "structurally deficient and functionally obsolete," city residents began a heated debate over the appropriate steps to take in repairing the bridge. Those concerned with preserving the structure's historical integrity sought a renovation plan that would allow the bridge to maintain its distinctive form; residents concerned about the increasing problem of traffic downtown looked at the renovation as a chance to build a new bridge that would stand up to modern congestion.
The DOT's $30.85 million plan for the bridge has been approved and leans toward the restoration camp: It slightly widens the road beds and sidewalks and erects a safety barrier between cars and sidewalks, but it leaves two lanes of traffic and keeps the bridge's original towers.
Even though the plan is approved and wheels are in motion to start work on the bridge renovation, opponents of the plan continue to voice their displeasure.