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Donald Ross Road bridge closures frustrating drivers, businesses. Here's why it's happening now

Palm Beach County plans to close westbound lanes after eastbound closures in April
Posted at 10:56 PM, May 02, 2024

JUNO BEACH, Fla. — The Donald Ross Road bridge connecting Palm Beach Gardens and Juno Beach is open again, but the relief for drivers will be short-lived with more closures in the future.

Wayne Goggins is among those frustrated.

"It sucks," he said to WPTV when speaking about another closure of lanes on the Donald Ross Road bridge.

Wayne Goggins is among those who are not looking forward to the upcoming bridge closures.
Wayne Goggins is among those who are not looking forward to the upcoming bridge closures.

Palm Beach County expects to close the westbound lanes on the bridge for about 10 days to replace hydraulic and electrical systems. It comes after it closed the eastbound lanes, frustrating restaurants in Juno Beach, for about 12 days in late April.

According to a spokesperson for the county, the repairs are expected to cost about $5.7 million.

Goggins, who rides a motorcycle, said he's more likely to use PGA Boulevard rather than the Donald Ross Road bridge. He said he's not looking forward to waiting in the heat.

"You got to wait in traffic for hours," Goggins said. "You just got to stand there and wait on traffic in the heat with this helmet on. It sucks."

Juno Beach

Eastbound Donald Ross Road at Bascule Bridge back open

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9:22 PM, May 01, 2024

Ned Lane, who uses the bridge to surf at Juno Beach, said the project makes no sense. He said he'll also have to loop around and use PGA Boulevard and doesn't understand why the two-lane road can't turn into a single-lane road going both ways.

"It makes no sense," Lane said. "They do it with the other bridges. You know they are going to do that with the U.S. 1 bridge. When they open it, they are going to have one side going one lane in each direction. So, why can't they do it with this bridge?"

"Palm Beach County Engineering and Public Works (EPW) staff initially investigated maintaining two-way traffic on half of the bridge but found that there was not adequate space to transition traffic back to the correct side before or after the bridge," the county said in a news release. "EPW appreciates the community's patience and understanding throughout this temporary inconvenience, as we work to enhance the safety and efficiency of the County's infrastructure."

Juno Beach

Workers share frustration as partial bridge closure continues

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6:31 PM, Apr 30, 2024

Rob McGrath, the general manager for Kee Grill in Juno Beach, said he thinks the westbound closure will also cause problems for his restaurant. He thinks people will just try to avoid the bridge altogether.

"I just think people are going to avoid the situation," McGrath said. "They're going to get over [the bridge] and then they'll have a nice dinner and a 45-minute drive."

He said his restaurant depends on the revenue from April to survive the summer, which he said is a slower time. Other restaurants expressed similar concerns to WPTV in previous stories.

Rob McGrath fears the bridge closures will hurt his restaurant's business.
Rob McGrath fears the bridge closures will hurt his restaurant's business.

A spokesperson for Palm Beach County 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 allows the county to accommodate any unexpected delays.