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Two Major Palm Beach Bridges "Structurally Deficient"

A 2006 bridge inspection report shows two major bridges to Palm Beach Island are "structurally deficient" and in need of replacement, Florida Department of Transportation officials said.
/ Source: WPBF-TV

A 2006 bridge inspection report shows two major bridges to Palm Beach Island are "structurally deficient" and in need of replacement, Florida Department of Transportation officials said. The Flagler Memorial Bridge and Southern Boulevard bridges are two of three spans over the Intracoastal Waterway connecting the Town of Palm Beach to Florida’s mainland. John Danielsen with the FDOT said the two are among 14 bridges deemed in need of replacement in a five-county area that includes Palm Beach County.

Built in 1938, the Flagler Memorial Bridge had a projected life of 50 years. The Southern Boulevard Bridge was constructed in 1950.

A June 30, 2006 Bridge Inspection Report showed that the two bridges have a structure rating of less than 50 percent and substructure in poor condition. According to the FDOT, a rating of less than 50 percent indicates that the structure has reached its expected life and is in need of rehabilitation or replacement.

The report also said the bridges were found to be functionally obsolete due to inadequate lane width, no separation between opposing travel lanes, inadequate sidewalk width, no provisions for bicycles and various other points that fail to meet FDOT standards.

Studies are currently underway to determine if the existing bridges can be rehabilitated, or how they will be replaced.

Danielsen said the bridges are in no danger of collapsing and that the state inspects the spans along the Intracoastal Waterway every year.

According to the FDOT report, the initial research phase for the Flagler Memorial bridge should be completed in early 2008, and construction is scheduled to begin in 2011 and be completed in 2014. Funding for the project has been established in FDOT’s work program. The current estimated cost of construction is $133 million.

The Southern Boulevard bridge study was initiated in November 2006 and is expected to be completed in April 2009. The research phase is expected to take approximately 30 months and should be completed by late 2011. Construction is estimated to take approximately 36 months.

The bridges serve as hurricane evacuation routes and provide access to essential services and facilities such as Good Samaritan Hospital, the Port of Palm Beach, Palm Beach International Airport, parks, and commercial centers.

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