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Drivers who use George Bush Blvd. in Delray Beach can't seem to catch a break.  After weeks of construction on the segment between Federal Highway and the Intracoastal Waterway, traffic problems got worse when the bridge got stuck in an up position. Palm Beach County officials don't know when it will reopen. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

 

By Larry Barszewski

It could be six weeks or more before a part needed to repair the broken George Bush Boulevard Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway in Delray Beach can be fabricated, Palm Beach County officials announced March 18. It could take even longer for the bridge to reopen.

The bridge malfunctioned March 3 because of damage to a main shaft and gear section in its drive system, which were original machinery on the 73-year-old bridge, officials said.

A replacement shaft was fabricated March 11 and tested with the existing gear. A structural engineering consulting firm inspected the bridge and determined other drive shaft machinery components, including a damaged bearing, also need to be replaced. It said further testing is needed of the remaining machinery in both spans.

"The fabrication of a new replacement bearing will take approximately six weeks, but may take longer depending on the availability of material," county officials said in a news release. "The testing of the remaining machinery is ongoing and may require additional replacements and time. The bridge will remain open to boat traffic and closed to vehicular traffic."

The 1949 bascule bridge has been closed indefinitely since the main shaft sheared in two during a nightime bridge opening. The damaged part was removed and shipped to Alabama for fabrication of a replacement. Officials said Friday that the county is coordinating all bridge repair work with state transportation officials.

"The bridge reopening will occur once the repairs are completed and we have concurrence from the Florida Department of Transportation and the structural engineering consulting firm," officials said. In the meantime, detours are directing traffic desiring to cross the Intracoastal south to Atlantic Avenue, either via State Road A1A on the barrier island or Federal Highway on the mainland. 

The Atlantic Avenue crossing is the closest to the broken bridge. The next crossing to the north is the Woolbright Road bridge in Boynton Beach.

The bridge closure has been yet another headache for drivers who regularly use the stretch of George Bush Boulevard between Federal Highway and Ocean Boulevard. A one-block portion directly east of Federal Highway was closed for two weeks in January as part of an ongoing $2 million road improvement project. 

Work on the road project, which runs from Northeast Second Avenue to A1A, started in July and isn’t expected to be completed until the summer of 2023. The project, being done by FDOT contractors, includes roadwork and drainage improvements, but not work to the bridge itself.

 

 

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Comments

  • Our condo Board has one objective...don't spend a penny on maintenance, instead, spend a fortune on repairs.  Why would we expect anything different from Delray offials?  Never do today what can be put off until tomorrow, ok?

     

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