The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority is closing in on a $30 million State Infrastructure Bank loan at 2.5 percent over 15 years to help pay for the $17.9 million Swing Bridge and other construction costs.
All SIB loan terms should be agreed upon no later than August, it was reported at GIBA's quarterly board meeting Wednesday in the Boca Grande Community Center Womans Club Room.
The SIB loan, administered by the Florida Department of Transportation, means GIBA will not have to raise tolls again, said Bill Holmberg, GIBA Finance Committee chairman. GIBA officials, who had been awaiting notice from the state about the SIB loan since October, were pleased when it arrived four months later.
"We're delighted to get that response from them," Holmberg said.
The back-ended loan will be repaid over 15 years after financing from the Bank of America and the state is blended. BOA still needs to agree to accept the state as a GIBA creditor of equal footing.
"I have a high level of confidence we'll be able to work out the integration of the two lines of credit," Holmberg said.
What: Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority Board
When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 15
Why: bridge work
Where: Boca Grande Community Center Woman's Club Room
Once the lines of credit are merged, GIBA will solicit bids for a fixed-rate 15-year bank loan, Holmberg said.
Although the SIB loan could defray some fixed bridge costs it is not reimbursement money, Holmberg emphasized.
"So it's very important we don't start construction for the Swing Bridge before we get that money," said GIBA member Steve Kieffer.
Charlotte County will have to sign off on the GIBA project with the state, which means the project will require 4-foot shoulders under county rules. That was a sour note to GIBA vice chairwoman Ginger Watkins.
"We had a 20-foot (wide) roadway and now it will be 30 feet," Watkins said. "I think it's atrocious. We are adding one-third more pavement onto our pristine island."
Jim Cooper, GIBA executive director, said the board could refuse the money but the tongue-in-cheek suggestion was never serious.
"If you want the state's money, it's their rules," Cooper said.
The shoulders are not included in the Swing Bridge plans just approved by GIBA but can be added post-construction, said Peter Strong, GIBA Engineering Committee chairman.
In other action, the GIBA Board:
re-elected Chairman David Hayes and Watkins as vice chairwoman for a second one-year term;
received a clean audit from Tom Cramer of Suplee & Shea of Sarasota; and
authorized Hayes to pursue commemorative plaques to be placed on either side of all completed bridges.