By Jane Smith
The Woolbright Road Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway should be open to all marine traffic sometime before March 4, according to Barry Meve, Palm Beach County bridge superintendent.
The bridge spans were locked down on Feb. 18 after defects were found in some bolts. The eastern half of the double-span bridge reopened Feb. 21, Meve said. That allows 90 percent of the marine traffic to get through, he said.
“The Woolbright Bridge has a 20-foot clearance, allowing many vessels to pass by underneath it,” Meve said.
The county is in charge of the Woolbright Bridge, which connects Boynton Beach with Ocean Ridge.
In nearby Delray Beach, state transportation workers found defective bolts and other issues with the Atlantic Avenue bridge in late January.
The state then tested all Intracoastal bridges along Florida’s east coast using ultrasonic equipment that can detect defects not apparent in a visual inspection, Meve said.
Five of the 32 bolts in the frame of the Woolbright Road drawbridge were found to be defective, he said. The frame attaches the spans to the fixed piers.
Even the spare bolts were tested and one was found to be defective, according to Meve. That meant the molds used to cast the bolts could have defects, he said.
The four good spare bolts were used to replace the defective bolts, allowing the eastern half to reopen on Feb. 21, Meve said.
The western portion had to wait until the new bolts were made in Miami, Meve said.
The closing to marine traffic will not affect vessels traveling to the Palm Beach International Boat Show, March 28 through 31, said Chuck Collins, executive director of Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County.
Boats and yachts usually motor up the Intracoastal from Fort Lauderdale the week before, said Collins, whose group owns the boat show in West Palm Beach. The vessels are docked on the eastern side of the Lake Worth Lagoon with the Intracoastal Waterway as a navigable channel in the center.