Traffic troubles continue around aging Flagler Memorial Bridge

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - 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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