Special for the Civic Association News: Dian Vujovich
It’s been a week since what locals call the North Bridge has reopened. And opened on time without a hitch, snag or crumbling piling.
While the Flagler Memorial Bridge only has half the number of lanes open now for traffic -- one westbound and one eastbound -- half is much better than nothing. In addition to making the drive to and from the island a lot quicker and easier, the opening has provided some welcome relief to shop owners and merchants, who found their off-season business more off than ever from May through October.
Judy Testa, one of the owners of Testa’s restaurant, saw the number of guests to her family’s restaurant slow considerably while the bridge was closed. “And when Nov. 1st came, everything changed,” she said. “It was a two-for --- the season began and the bridge opened on the same day. I’m still not used to it and we’ve seen an increase in business ever since.”
Without counting cars and using a GPS to track where they are going, it’s hard to get a sense of how many more people have come to Palm Beach since the bridge has reopened, or where they are spending their money. But some local merchants do say they’ve seen an increase in both foot traffic and sales.
All of which is something to cheer about.
In honor of the Flagler Memorial Bridge reopening, Testa’s hosted a cocktail party Nov. 6, creating a new cocktail for the occasion: the Flaglertini. It’s a vanilla vodka-flavored libation that one of the party guests, Sherry Frankel, owner of Melangerie, said was so smooth it made her feel connected to Henry Flagler.
But there’s more to a bridge reopening than Flaglertinis.
Have you noticed the new, white tubular delineators after you pass the orange barrels that line the lane entrances to the bridge?
Palm Beach town engineer Bill Francis says these are DOT-approved safety devices.
“They don’t stand individually. If you notice they have plastic bases and are connected on what’s called a mountable curb,” Mr. Francis said. He explained that means if you were to cross into the middle of the road and hit any of the tubes, you would feel that curb on your wheels and indicate your driving is off.
With no exact date for the completion of the Flagler Memorial Bridge replacement project yet in hand, there is more good bridge news to share. “They are almost done with all of the foundation drilling,” Mr. Francis said. “And that’s a plus.”