A Florida mayor said Wednesday that an earlier warning of a bridge’s “imminent collapse” was cautionary and there was no evidence that the structure was going to fail.
Mike Meier, mayor of Stuart, north of West Palm Beach, told reporters that the earlier message, delivered by the U.S. Coast Guard after chunks of concrete fell from the Roosevelt Bridge, was designed “to drive the point home that it was not safe to travel under the bridge.”
“Let me be clear,” he added. “There is no evidence to suggest that the bridge will collapse imminently.”
Meier made the statement after he said state Department of Transportation officials inspected north and southbound sections of the bridge. They found “structural issues,” he said, but “did not give any evidence” that the bridge would fall.
Meier added that the "situation was rapidly evolving."
A Department of Transportation spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.
Meier said that maritime traffic in the river beneath the bridge had since resumed, but the bridge and the Dixie Highway underneath it remained closed to keep drivers and pedestrians from being killed or injured by more falling concrete.
Meier said that the crack was discovered on Tuesday night after someone alerted the transportation department of falling concrete from the bridge, which crosses the St. Lucie River.
The U.S. Coast Guard then began warning boaters early Wednesday to avoid traveling under it, according to NBC affiliate WTPV.
"All stations, all stations, this is United States Coast Guard Center Miami, Florida. All vessels are required to keep clear of the new Roosevelt Bridge until further notice, due to the risk of imminent collapse," said the message to boaters.
A tweet later from U.S. Coast Guard Southeast said a safety zone had been established "stopping any commercial maritime traffic from transiting under the Roosevelt Bridge."
The bridge was built in 1996, NBC Miami reported.
In April, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, an infrastructure investment advocacy group, reported using federal data that almost 231,000 American bridges — more than a third — need repair or should be completely replaced.
“Our bridge network is underfunded and should be modernized. State and local government just haven’t been given the necessary financial resources to fully address the problem," ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who led the team conducting the analysis, said in a statement at the time.