Building a new bridge over the Loxahatchee River just north of Burt Reynolds Park that will allow taller boats to pass underneath and require fewer openings should start in about three years.
“We’re right on target with the scheduling,” said Paul Cherry, the Project Manager with Kimly-Horn & Associates, the bridge contractors. Construction of the $121 million bridge is planned to start in August 2020.
The new bascule bridge — a bascule bridge is a drawbridge — is planned to have a 35-foot clearance for boats. That’s 10 feet higher than the existing bridge. The Indiantown Road bridge also has a 35-foot clearance.
By comparison, the Blue Heron Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway has a 65-foot clearance.
The good news for boaters is that the 35-foot clearance means about 44 percent fewer openings on the U.S. 1 bridge, which opens on demand.
The bad news?
The new bridge — which must win final approval from the Jupiter town council — will take about three years to complete.
Public hearings on the bridge are planned in the fall. No date has been set for a vote by the Jupiter council.
Two options on how to build the bridge are being considered.
One is to keep one lane open in each direction on the current bridge until half of the new bridge is built.
Traffic would be shifted to those lanes until the new bridge is completed. This is the process being used at the Flagler Memorial Bridge between West Palm Beach and Palm Beach.
Construction using this method would take about three years.
The other option is to close the U.S. 1 bridge during construction. Traffic would be diverted to Alternate A1A.
That would save between six and nine months in construction time.
But motorists would spend more time in their vehicles going around the bridge, according to MPO records. North county businesses and attractions such as the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse would lose revenue. And taxpayers would have to pay for temporary road improvements such as turn lanes on Indiantown Road and Alternate A1A.
A final decision on how to build the bridge has not been decided, said Lisa Stone, assistant project manager with Kimly-Horn.
“We are looking at both alternatives. Local officials, business people, residents all have their opinions. We are seeking a happy medium,” said Stone.
About 21,000 motorized vehicles daily go over the bridge, which was built in 1958. The new bridge is expected to last 75 years, according to county records.
Motorists, pedestrians and bicycle riders will see improvements when the new bridge is done.
The current bridge has no pedestrian or bicycle lanes. The new bridge will have both on each of the east and west sides of the bridge.
The new bridge will be about 100 feet wide. That’s about 35 feet wider than the current span.
There are no plans to change the on-demand status of the U.S. 1 bridge. Changing the schedule to open every 30 minutes, like the Indiantown Road bridge, requires the approval of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Replacing the bridge is one of several upcoming and ongoing projects in north county. Others are:
- A $2 million project on U.S. 1 north of the Carlin White Bridge starts next year to reduce the road to four lanes from six lanes, widen sidewalks, build bicycle lanes, lower the speed limit and add lighting/landscaping. Work from the bridge 2 miles north to County Line Road is expected to take about a year.
- Construction could start on the Love Street project. Developer Charles Modica has won approval to build an outdoor marketplace with restaurants and retail on the Jupiter Inlet at Love Street, near the Square Grouper.
- Indiantown Road from A1A west to U.S. 1 at Harbourside Place is scheduled for new bicycle lanes, crosswalks, sidewalks, and landscaping. The speed limit likely would be dropped from the current 45 mph.
- Building an inn at Suni Sands could start. Modica, who owns the 10-acre parcel, has not submitted plans but has proposed an inn and boathouse on the property.
- The end of the year is the scheduled opening for 1000 North, an upscale restaurant on the Loxahatchee River partly owned by former NBA superstar Michael Jordan. The former Charlie’s Crab will be demolished to build an 18,000-square-foot restaurant. There’ll be a total of about 325 seats, including about 75 outdoors. A private club is planned upstairs. A public dock and boat slips are planned.
3U.S. 1 Bridge replacement in Jupiter
When: Start about Aug., 2020
Duration: 2 1/2 to 3 years
Cost: $121 million
Design: Eight-foot-wide lanes for pedestrians and seven-foot-wide lanes for bicyclists are planned
Width: Current bridge is 65 feet wide. New bridge will be 100 feet wide.
Clearance for boats: Current bridge is 25 feet. New bridge will be 35 feet.
Next step: A public hearing is planned in the fall