Flagler Memorial Bridge to open Tuesday to limited traffic

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - UPDATE: The Florida Department of Transportation says the Flagler Bridge will be open to limited traffic beginning Tuesday morning.

Here's the information from the DOT:

The Flagler Memorial Bridge will reopen to limited vehicular traffic at 6:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 13. When the bridge reopens, there will be one lane open in each direction for passenger cars only; vehicles exceeding five tons, (larger than an average pickup truck) will not be allowed over the bridge.  

Thursday morning (Nov. 8), project staff recorded a small amount of additional settlement had occurred in the previous 24 hours. From Friday morning (Nov. 9) through Monday morning, (Nov. 12), the project team continued to monitor the bridge. On Monday afternoon, the team determined that the bridge could reopen to limited traffic.  

The team will continue to monitor bridge conditions and work with Palm Beach County Traffic Engineering to adjust traffic signal timing along A1A and Flagler Drive as necessary in response to the these restrictions.

The bridge has been closed to vehicles since 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, for emergency maintenance on the bridge locks. Early Tuesday morning, Nov. 6, project staff determined that some settlement had occurred at the bridge's southeast pier. The settlement caused the locks to be out of alignment. The settlement may be related to construction activity.



Traffic troubles continued in and around Town of Palm Beach for a second full day on Wednesday after the unexpected closure of the aging Flagler Memorial Bridge.

The vital link from the barrier island to the mainland was closed for emergency repairs earlier this week after the bridge's locks were knocked out of alignment during the long-planned construction of a replacement bridge.

"The bridge is essentially a big concrete box that sits on timber piles. So, one corner of that box has settled slightly," said Peter Nissen, a senior project engineer with New Millennium Engineering.

The bridge -- which is 75-years-old -- is narrow and cannot accommodate the height of modern-day vessels.

Earlier this year, the Florida Department of Transportation committed more than $94 million to build a wider and taller bridge south of the existing bridge.

"Codes were a lot different [back then]," Nissen said. "They were built a lot differently than they are now. DOT didn't decide to replace this bridge for fun. It needed to be replaced. It's structurally and functionally deficient."

More than 16,000 cars cross the bridge daily and business owners in Palm Beach said the closure had impacted their bottom line.

"I had a client yesterday that couldn't make it," said Lillian Krits, an owner of Hair & Nails Boutique. "She called me and she said I don't know how to get there. I'm going to be late. I cannot stay. I have other plans. I'm not going to make it."

Krits, who lives seven minutes away from her business, said the closure had added nearly ninety-minutes to her commute.

"I don't know how I'm going to get home," she said. "It's impossible to come home."

Engineers said the bridge could be closed through the weekend as they worked to complete the emergency repairs.

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