Plans are moving forward for an April start to replace the Southern Boulevard bridges, despite this week’s announcement that the completion of the Flagler Memorial Bridge, three-and-a-half miles to the north, will be delayed until June.
About 100 locals packed a St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church meeting room Wednesday evening, at the western foot of the bridge to Palm Beach, to look at plans, diagrams and artists’ renderings and quiz FDOT officials about the upcoming project.
The original plan called for holding off on the Southern construction until after the Flagler Memorial Bridge was done, to avoid clogging traffic to and from the island. But FDOT spokesperson Barbara Kelleher said the early months of work on the Southern causeway will focus on installing a partly pre-fabricated temporary bridge just north of the main Southern bridge and won’t limit traffic on the old one for now.
The $93 million Southern project involves replacing two bridges — the main drawbridge on the West Palm Beach side and the low-slung tide relief bridge, next to — and in fact touching — Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club property. The project is scheduled for completion in late 2020.
The new bridges will be wider and safer for cars, bicycles and pedestrians, and at 21-feet high at mean high tide, four feet taller for boats. The additional height means the approach, at the intersection of Southern and South Flagler Drive, will be built up by three feet to meet the new bridge.
The main bridge will have one 12-foot-wide traffic lane in each direction, a 10-foot-wide bike lane on each side, and, behind a barrier, a six-foot-wide sidewalk on each side.
Boats on the Intracoastal Waterway will be able to pass under the bridge, with openings on the quarter- and three-quarter-hour. And the public will still be able to use the scenic causeway park during construction, though parts of it might be closed off to accommodate work vehicles and equipment, she said.
When the president’s motorcade needs to get through, the Secret Service will notify the project manager to make sure the bridges are passable, she said.
If you’re worried about the president’s ability to get a good night’s rest, Kelleher said current plans call for all work to take place on weekdays, during daylight hours. Any weekend work would have to be approved by the Town of Palm Beach, she said, but so far there’s no weekend work scheduled. In any event, work on the tide relief bridge, next to Mar-a-Lago’s tennis courts isn’t scheduled to start until August 2018.
More meetings will be scheduled to update the public as work progresses, Kelleher said.
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