By Ron Hayes
Designs are currently being drawn to replace the Ocean Avenue bridge in Lantana, probably within the next two or three years.
“Sometimes we build a new bridge next to the existing one so traffic can keep flowing, then take down the old bridge,” says county bridge superintendent Barry Meve, “but in this case we’re going to put the new bridge right where it is now, so it won’t be passable during construction.”
Built in 1950, the current Lantana Bridge has a 12-foot vertical clearance. The new bridge will rise 21 feet, and could cost between $25 million and $40 million, Meve said.
“But now that times are getting tough, a lot of these bids are coming in low,” he added.
The construction will probably take between two and three years, he said.
However, Meve emphasized that nothing will be settled until the final design is ready.
In the meantime, he reports that seven of the eight drawbridges operated by the county have been equipped with hurricane-resistant glass. Only the Palmetto Park Road Bridge, which has slanting windows, remains to be done.
Why should the average citizen care?
“We used to have 20 people running around putting up shutters and taking them down again,” explains Meve. “And if it wasn’t a real storm, FEMA wouldn’t compensate us for the overtime.”