Bob Wright, Chairman & CEO, Civic Association
PALM BEACH -- The Palm Beach Civic Association is applauding Gov. Rick Scott’s willingness to keep the Flagler Memorial Bridge open to traffic.
Gov. Scott assured the Civic Association over the weekend that the 86-year-old bridge will be repaired so it can remain open during construction of a new north bridge.
“Thank you for understanding why closing the Flagler Bridge is simply not an option and would have devastating long-term consequences for our residents,” Civic Association Chairman and CEO Bob Wright wrote the governor on Wednesday.
An international engineering firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff, has been hired by the Florida Department of Transportation to design the repairs that will be necessary.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we can design a fix and it will work,” DOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said.
State officials were convinced after talks with Mayor Gail Coniglio and Civic Association Director Llwyd Ecclestone that closing the bridge would have a disastrous impact on Palm Beach.
Repairs might be costly. “But the loss to the economy and the benefit to the community is far more than that,” Mr. Prasad said.
Now the Civic Association is working with the mayor and others to urge state officials to follow through on their pledge.
A campaign has been launched for residents to help keep the north bridge open by going to www.palmbeachcivic.org/Bridge-Alert to communicate to Gov. Scott and Mr. Prasad.
The Civic Association is asking the state to explore every possible option to keep traffic flowing. If the existing bridge can’t be repaired, the state should build a temporary bridge for the 17,000 cars a day that use the north bridge now.
“We have to do everything we can to keep the existing bridge open,” Mr. Wright said. “We need the old bridge to be repaired or an alternative temporary bridge to be built alongside of it for the duration of the new bridge construction.”
Bridge closure would impact Palm Beach in many ways.
The Civic Association worries that residents who suffer a heart attack, stroke or major injury on the north end would be delayed in reaching a hospital if the bridge closes.
Shops and restaurants would lose business because of the traffic congestion. Homes wouldn’t sell. And extra time for businesses to get employees onto the island would increase the cost of living.
“We cannot afford to have it closed without impacting jobs, local businesses, traffic, personal safety and the quality of life for everyone who lives, works and visits our community,” Mr. Wright wrote the governor.
The state’s consulting engineer will report late this week or early next week on how to repair the bridge. Other bridge experts have told the Civic Association that repairs are possible.
“The mission of the Civic Association is to do everything we can to keep this bridge open,” Mr. Wright said.
Contact the Governor
Governor Rick Scott
Executive Office of the Governor
400 S. Monroe Street, The Capitol
[O] (850) 717-9337
[F] (850) 922-4292
Letter Sent to Governor Scott
3-6-2013 -- Today, Civic Association Chairman and CEO Bob Wright sent letters to Governor Rick Scott thanking him and the Secretary of the Department of Transportation Ananth Pradad for their leadership and support to keep the Flagler Bridge open for access to and from the Town of Palm Beach.