LORRAINE THOMPSON: Work on Crescent Beach Bridge will last through spring 2018

The Crescent Beach Bridge over the Matanzas River on State Road 206 will undergo repairs and rehabilitation starting in July, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.


According to a FDOT release, the $606,000 project is scheduled to be complete in spring 2018, weather or unforeseen circumstances permitting. KVK Contracting Inc. is the contractor.

The project includes spot painting of the drawbridge’s structural steel and bearings and miscellaneous steel repairs.

Construction will occur seven days a week with southbound and northbound lane closures scheduled 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Flaggers will be in place to direct traffic around the closures. No lane closures are allowed on the two-way bridge during peak traffic hours or during holidays or special events.

Full bridge closures and detours are not anticipated at this time, however, it may occur in a later construction phase. Marine traffic may be restricted to a single drawbridge span opening and the United States Coast Guard will send out notification when these occur.

For more information regarding construction projects, visit www.nflroads.com or call 831-FDOT.

Fort Matanzas National Monument, 8635 A1A South, offers free admission and parking along with plenty of history and nature. Boat tours to Rattlesnake Island resumed in late June. The free ferry service from the park dock to the old fort on Rattlesnake Island on the Matanzas River has been on hold since Hurricane Matthew damaged the area last October.

The fort, just a short boat ride from the park’s Visitors Center, was built on less than two acres of dry ground with water all around it and a deep channel just in front of the gun deck. Today, Rattlesnake Island is more than 200 acres.

But don’t expect to see rattlesnakes on the small island. In the early 1900s when dredging work for the Intracoastal Waterway was begun by the United States Corps of Engineers, the name Rattlesnake Island was supposedly taken from a nearby fishing camp. Another theory is that when workers began the restoration work in 1916, they found some rattlesnakes among the brush and rubble on the fort.

Visitors can get free boarding passes for the boat ride at the Visitors Center. The passes are issued on a first-come basis and cannot be reserved in advance. While at the Visitors Center, pick up a free trail guide, talk with a ranger, and learn more about the history of the monument and fort. Activities include walking the trail, fishing from the river shore, walking along the river beach at low tide, and beachcombing.

The area of the Matanzas inlet, now preserved within the park boundaries, was the scene of crucial events in Spanish colonial history. The massacre of French soldiers there in 1565 was Spain’s opening move in establishing a colony in Florida. Later, the construction of Fort Matanzas in 1740-1742 was Spain’s last effort to ward off British encroachments from the north.

Fort Matanzas National Monument is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. For information, call 471-0116 or visit www.nps.gov/foma/index.htm.

Note: Both the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas are looking for friendly, personable VIPs (Volunteers in Parks) to share the parks’ history and help make visitors’ experiences memorable. Volunteers share living history at each park or help staff visitor centers and welcome stations. For information, call 829-6506 ext. 233, or visit casa_volunteer@nps.gov

• Just in time for the hottest time of the year, Anastasia Island Branch Library will offer some of the coolest programs of the season for children as well as adults.

A program on bees for children in grades K-7 will offer hands-on with take-home gardening goodies on July 19 from 2 to 3 p.m. Participants meet a local bee keeper with a live hive.

Kids and teen clothing swap will be held July 22 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. You’re invited to bring baby’s, children’s or junior’s clean, lightly used clothes (except for underwear) in good condition to swap. Swap out one item for each item you bring. Any remaining clothes will be donated to the Betty Griffin Thrift Store to help other families in the community

A program on Timucuan technology fishing, scheduled for July 28 from 3 to 4 p.m., will feature the folks from Northeast Florida Archaeology Network who will teach kids all about fish and other coastal resources that were a crucial part of Timucuan diets. Students will explore various artifacts and fishing techniques through hands-on activities, including making their own fishing weirs.

Adults are invited to a treasure hunt on July 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with Florida Department of Financial Services which holds unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $1 billion, mostly from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities and trust holdings. In addition to money and securities, unclaimed property includes tangible property such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps, historical items and other miscellaneous articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes. This is a free service. There’s more than $13 million of unclaimed property in St. Johns County, and some of it might rightfully be yours. You can check the state’s website at www.fltreasurehunt.org, or attend the program.

The island library is located at 124 Sea Grove Main Street. Call 209-3730 or visit www.sjcpls.org for program and other information.

• Last week’s sea turtle nests count increased to 397 along St. Johns County beaches. While still an impressive count, it’s fewer than last year’s count of 522 nests at the same time. North beaches are hosting 319 nests. There are 68 on Anastasia Island and 10 at Matanzas Inlet South.

With the anticipation of hatchlings soon leaving some of the earlier laid nests, beachgoers and residents are reminded that beach lighting is monitored to assure that residents and businesses are in compliance with the county’s beach lighting code. All beachfront properties are required to eliminate non-compliant interior and exterior lights that are visible from the beach. Those who walk the beach at night should reduce their use of bright white flashlights which may interfere with nesting activities, and cover the light with a red filter. The nesting season continues through October or until all of the nests have hatched, whichever comes later.

Those who encounter an injured, sick or dead sea turtle are asked to call the St. Johns County Coastal Wildlife pager at 227-0023. For more information, call St. Johns County Habitat Conservation and Beach Management at 209-3740 or go to www.sjcfl.us/hcp

• The Conch Fritters, a tropical ensemble that thrives on music from Key West, will highlight Saturday’s Music in the Park event from 5 to 8 p.m. at Anastasia State Park.

“Volunteer” locals and visitors are invited to participate in open performances from 6 to 7 p.m. The Conch Fritters will take the stage from 6 to 8 p.m. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Those Guys will wrap up the series on Aug. 19 from 6-8 p.m. and will be preceded by performances by local musicians from 5-6 p.m.

Concerts are free with paid park admission: $8 per vehicle with 2-8 people, $4 per single-occupant vehicle, $2 per pedestrian, bicyclist, extra passenger, and passengers in vehicle with holder of annual individual entrance pass. For information, call the ranger station at 461-2033

• Vocalist Elizabeth Roth will highlight Wednesday’s free Music by the Sea concert. Together with Matt VanRysdom and Trey Moore, the trio, known as the Grapes of Roth, will perform classic rock. The summer series, sponsored by the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association, and held at the St. Johns County Pier, 350 A1A Beach Blvd., features a different band or performer and restaurant each week. This week’s featured restaurant is Red Frog & McToads. Food is served at 6 p.m. The music begins at 7 p.m. Visitors may bring their own food and beverages or purchase a dinner for $10 or less.

The Ramona Quinby Band will be the featured performer at the July 26 concert. The series runs through Sept. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. each Wednesday.

For civic association membership, the remaining 2017 concert schedule, parking recommendations and other information, visit www.sabca.org, call 347-8007 or email sabcivic@yahoo.com

Have news to share about Anastasia Island or the adjoining areas? Send your information about people and events to staugbeachwatch@aol.com, or call 471-4851.