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Bridge construction blocking drivers during April. Why it matters to businesses

Palm Beach County says it’s fixing the hydraulics, electrical systems on Bascule Bridge
Posted at 11:56 PM, Apr 17, 2024

JUNO BEACH, Fla. — Construction in April is frustrating businesses in Juno Beach, who said they depend on revenue from the population increases seen in South Florida.

Palm Beach County said it expects to close the eastbound lanes on Donald Ross Road at the Bascule for about 10 days to replace hydraulic and electrical systems. According to a spokesperson for the county, the repairs are expected to cost about $5.7 million.

Rob McGrath, who is the general manager for a Juno Beach restaurant near the beach called Kee Grill, said the construction is a surprise and it's hurting his business. He said he doesn't understand the time chosen for the project since he believes this is the last few weeks of "season."

Rob McGrath, who is the general manager for a Juno Beach restaurant near the beach called Kee Grill, said he doesn't understand why the work on Donald Ross Road is being done in April. April 17, 2024
Rob McGrath, who is the general manager for a Juno Beach restaurant near the beach called Kee Grill, said he doesn't understand why the work on Donald Ross Road is being done in April.

His restaurant already is dealing with closures from the bridge replacement on U.S. 1

"I don’t understand the thought process for doing this in April versus going ahead and doing it in August or September," McGrath said. "When your tourism numbers are lower and the relative amount of people in the area are lower and putting a detriment to the businesses that are here.”

He also said the restaurant, which he said has been open since 1996, depends on the income to help keep the restaurant open when there are fewer people in town. McGrath said he also doesn't understand why the county can't make traffic move both ways on the bridge since there are two lanes, but his biggest frustration is the project's timing.

“It’s the time period it just makes no sense," he said. "And they can’t turn one side into traffic both ways? It’s kind of disturbing.”

McGrath said the business could lose about $25,000 to $50,000 in a week from the construction.

Palm Beach County said it expects to close the eastbound lanes on Donald Ross Road at the Bascule for about 10 days to replace hydraulic and electrical systems.
Palm Beach County said it expects to close the eastbound lanes on Donald Ross Road at the Bascule for about 10 days to replace hydraulic and electrical systems.

WPTV reporter Ethan Stein started making calls to the county, who forwarded WPTV to various departments before asking to station to email a county employee's email address. A spokesperson for the department said it elected to perform the project in the middle of April for various factors:

"Since the tourist season is over and people are returning north, there will be a reduced volume of traffic during this time, minimizing the disruption to commuters," a county engineer said in a written statement. "The bridge is currently operating inefficiently and requires immediate component replacement to ensure its functionality. Delaying until summer could worsen the situation, causing inconvenience to commuters and posing safety risks if the bridge gets stuck in the up position.

The county engineer also wrote that it chose April for the project because it decreases the chance of severe weather like hurricanes or thunderstorms and it allows the county to accommodate any unexpected delays.