Manalapan: Audubon bridge project making gains

By Dan Moffett

    Work on Manalapan’s Audubon Causeway bridge is picking up momentum, Vice Mayor Peter Isaac said, and the project appears to have a chance to be completed on schedule and under budget.
    After meeting with the project’s builder and engineer, Isaac said “both are very optimistic that they’ll finish the bridge on time, before the end of July.”
    He said temporary barriers to close traffic for demolition of the south half of the bridge are scheduled to go up by mid-February, leaving an 8-foot lane open for one-way traffic on the north side. The hope is that by April, workers will have finished the south side and opened it to traffic without weight restrictions, allowing heavy trucks and service vehicles to cross.
    Florida Power & Light Co. is scheduled to move power poles to the north side of the bridge in February to make way for demolition.
    Isaac said the project engineer thinks the town will save about 20 percent on the cost of installing pilings because they will need to be set only 20 feet deep, instead of the preliminary estimate of 25 feet. The town still hopes to hold construction costs to about $800,000.
    In other business:
    • Town Manager Linda Stumpf says she is still waiting for the results of a feasibility study on the proposed sale of the town’s water utility system to Boynton  Beach.
    Consultants have had difficulty finding accurate consumption numbers for customers in Manalapan because the town charges a base fee, with a flat per-gallon rate for high usage. Most municipalities, including Boynton Beach, use a tiered system with increasingly higher thresholds of charges based on specific consumption levels, Stumpf said.
    “We need to be sure we know how much our customers would pay if we go through with the Boynton deal,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of big users in Manalapan. If the costs are too high, we won’t do it.”
    • Police Chief Carmen Mattox got a standing ovation from town commissioners and officials during the Jan. 26 meeting.
    In December, Mattox graduated from Palm Beach State College with a bachelor’s degree in public safety management, fulfilling a commitment he made to the town to finish his education. Mattox earned an associate’s degree as a lieutenant and completed the bachelor’s work during his last three years as chief. “It’s quite an accomplishment to have a full-time job, and a family, and go to school at night,” said Mayor David Cheifetz.

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