Flagler Bridge closure infuriates some

16,000 cars a day will be diverted

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Signs of wear on the Flagler Memorial Bridge are obvious.

So are signs that people can hardly imagine a world without the Flagler bridge.

"You don't want that while you're sleeping at night to know that somebody in our town has died because we couldn't get emergency equipment to them," said Davis Rosow, a Palm Beach Town Council Member.

Palm Beach Island residents packed a question and answer session with the state transportation department to say as loudly as possible that they don't want the bridge closed - even though the state told them they'd already made up their mind.

"Once people have lost their jobs, once businesses have closed, businesses decreased, then there's going to be some finger pointing," said Thierry Beaud, a Palm Beach Island business owner.

The state says there's no choice because the bridge is decaying more quickly than anyone realized.

An eighteen month tear-down and rebuild is needed - throwing open the door for questions about emergency vehicles, traffic congestion and why other options aren't being tried before they rip down the vital artery into the Island.

"We ruled out a floating bridge because it will destroy the other," said Jim Wolfe with the Florida Dept. Of Transportation.

This is the other side of the coin. The streets leading to the Southern Boulevard bridge, will soon be filled with detour signs and new cars.

"Absolutely, the more people who come by, the better," said Robert Lamelas, an Owner at The Corner Store.

The state predicts 16,000 cars will be diverted to the Southern Boulevard bridge and the Royal Park Bridge.  

Lamelas says his store could use the jolt new traffic could provide after the tough economy drained people's disposable income.

"It will probably bring more people by here considering it'll be the second bridge that is closed because the Lantana Bridge is closed," said Lamelas.

The state says they will be monitoring traffic with cameras and with police on the ground.

This will all start on April 1st when the Flagler Bridge will be closed for good.

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