Watch video of the meeting here:
FDOT Secretary Faces WPB Public & City Leaders on Bridge Closure
(West Palm Beach, FL) – Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad faced serious and some skeptical questions from West Palm Beach residents as well as city leaders as he appeared at West Palm Beach City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
At the request of Mayor Jeri Muoio, Prasad appeared before city leaders and the public to explain FDOT’s latest plan to fix the Flagler Bridge. He also answered questions from the public.
Secretary Prasad told the Mayor and City Commission that FDOT is changing their repair plans to now allow the bridge to remain open during the day, with repairs closing it at night. Prasad told city leaders the new plan will add $5 million dollars and six months to the original timetable, but he said the “additional expense and delay is worthwhile.”
The new plan calls for driving what he called “micro pilings” into the foundation to stabilize the bridge. He explained this technique is different than what FDOT was considering a few weeks ago when it announced it would be impossible to keep the bridge open during repairs.
The new plan is, according to Prasad “an innovative fix, not totally out of the box but not routinely used.”
One resident asked if the new plan is guaranteed to work, to which Prasad answered there is no 100% guarantee, but “we believe the micro piling fix will work.”
City Commission Ike Robinson asked how FDOT will keep residents who live near the bridge informed about the noise created by the repairs. Prasad said they are looking into creating a hotline number for the public to call, but he also said FDOT will “strive to do even better.”
The temporary fix will take approximately six months, during which time the bridge will be closed at night. Once the temporary repairs are made, the bridge should be fully functional, according to FDOT. They say the repairs will allow all weight and lane restrictions to be lifted at the end of the six months.