Making a Difference
By Eric Wills | From Preservation | July/August 2010
As a child, Theresa Segal would often make the trip to Anastasia Island near St. Augustine, Fla., to visit her grandfather. The highlight? Driving across the Bridge of Lions, a 1927 Mediterranean Revival structure spanning the Matanzas River. Those memories came rushing back in 1996, when Segal heard that demolition of the bridge appeared imminent: The Coast Guard had declared the structure an "impingement to navigation" and was pushing Florida's Department of Transportation to build a new span. "I thought, 'Oh my gosh, this could actually happen, we could lose the bridge,' " Segal says. She joined other local preservationists in forming a friends' group to save the structure. They distributed a petition, started a letter-writing campaign, and commissioned a study demonstrating that ship traffic was actually decreasing and the old bridge could be faithfully restored and upgraded. Their efforts paid off. Later this year, the Florida Department of Transportation will complete a five-year, $82 million restoration effort that preserved the historic crossing—and its signature marble lions. The restored bridge has already opened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. "It was a dream walking across," says Segal. "A lot of people say they can't believe we actually saved it, but we did."
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