Extra $1M needed to keep Flagler Bridge open during construction

PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Keeping the old Flagler Memorial Bridge open while a new span is built will add a minimum of $1 million to the $94 million project and will delay the construction of the new span, according to Ananth Prasad, secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.

Prasad said the extra cost and delays are worth it because it will benefit the residents and businesses in Palm Beach.

Engineers will take one to two weeks to determine what, if anything, can be done to stabilize the foundation of the old bridge so that it will handle the traffic, Prasad said. 

He said the work is made more difficult because the state has no record of "how deep the foundation is on the existing bridge".

"I am cautiously optimistic that we can design a fix for the foundation, but the engineers need to determine that the fix will work and the bridge will be able to handle the traffic," said Prasad.

About 16,000 cars cross the bridge daily.

Late Saturday the Palm Beach Civic Association announced on its Web site the bridge would not close April 1. 

If everything goes as planned, the old bridge will closed for a few months in the summer while repairs are made. "We will know in one or two weeks what, if anything, can be done to the existing bridge," Prasad said.

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