Flagler Memorial Bridge expected to close soon

Replacement bridge may open by end of 2014

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Transportation is expected to close the Flagler Memorial Bridge as early as April 1st because of continued concerns over safety, WPTV NewsChannel 5 has learned.

This afternoon, FDOT said the closure was imminent.

"I have to believe that they're doing this because they believe that it's dangerous and if that's the case we don't want people on that bridge," West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio told WPTV NewsChannel 5. "There's a lot of cracks in the foundation. There is settling. And they just believe that it is safer for everybody involved to keep the bridge closed until the new bridge is opened."

In November, the aging bridge was closed for emergency repairs after its locks were knocked out of alignment during the construction of the replacement bridge.

It reopened to limited traffic one week later but remained closed to pedestrian and bicycle traffic and passenger cars smaller than the size of a pick-up truck.

The aging, 75-year-old bridge was expected to be permanently closed until a replacement bridge was built.

Once it is closed to vehicular traffic, the spans will be kept open for boat traffic until they can be removed, FDOT said.

"It's not going to be very easy," said Lisa Solomon, a Palm Beach County resident who drives over the bridge regularly. "We'll have to [make] the best of it."

Last year, FDOT committed more than $94 million to build a wider and taller bridge south of the existing bridge.

FDOT said the construction of the replacement bridge was expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

More than 16,000 cars cross the bridge daily.

At 6:30pm on Monday, FDOT said it would hold a public information meeting in rooms 1D and 1E of the Palm Beach County Convention Center in the 600 block of Okeechobee Road to answer questions from the public.

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