FDOT Delays Royal Park Bridge Painting Project
After receiving a delay request from the town of Palm Beach, the Florida Department of Transportation has postponed painting the Royal Park Bridge until next year. The agreement arrived as town officials expressed concerned over travel restrictions during the upcoming winter season.
The Royal Park Bridge is one of three bridges that connect Palm Beach to West Palm Beach over the Intracoastal Waterway. The project has previously been delayed due to a lack of needed materials.
Originally built in 1929, the Royal Park Bridge is a steel and concrete bascule bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway on FL 704. The structure was replaced and reopened to traffic in 2004 after a $53.5 million reconstruction project.
The largest span reaches 202.4 feet for a total length of 1091.3 feet. The bridge is owned by FDOT, and its last available inspection from 2018 listed the structure in overall “good” condition.
Initially anticipated to begin in May, the $2,335,538 project was pushed back to September because of difficulties in acquiring materials. The contract was awarded to Seminole Equipment, Inc. (Tarpon Springs, Florida).
FDOT postpones Royal Park Bridge painting project after request from Palm Beach:https://t.co/2UgKx7bUMo— Jodie Wagner (@JRWagner5) August 31, 2022
According to FDOT’s website, the work consists of removing and replacing the steel coating on the Royal Park Bridge, as well as cleaning and painting the concrete portions of the bridge.
Work is anticipated to take up to 300 days to complete, with the original completion date landing in July 2023. However, FDOT said it would try to complete the painting by Jan. 1, weather-permitting.
During the project, one of the bridge’s two westbound lanes will be closed for the contractor to store equipment.
Concerned about traffic impacts, the Town Council reached out to FDOT earlier this summer requesting to delay the project. However, the department was reportedly unable to accommodate the request because it had already awarded the contract.
Town officials explained that the initial project timeframe coincides with the busy winter season. Additionally, the Royal Park Bridge is part of the major hurricane evacuation route for the island, with the worst hurricanes tending to emerge in September and October during the scheduled closure.
Town Manager Kirk Bloiun told the council at a July meeting that the lane closure would cause traffic headaches for residents and visitors. Council member Ted Cooney said that while the Royal Park Bridge was in dire need of a paint job, the project should have been scheduled in a way that minimized traffic.
“Traffic is always a great concern in this community,” Blouin said. “Closing down one lane would lead to disruption in our traffic patterns.”
“We all know that traffic through the Okeechobee corridor is abysmal at best, and most of that is out of our control,” he said. “The Royal Park Bridge is our highest-use bridge. It's a major conduit. It's an area during season and at rush hour that I try to avoid to the best of my ability.”
Palm Beach Mayor Danielle Moore wrote a letter to FDOT in July requesting that the department delay the project until May 2023.
“The town’s population increases significantly from November to April, which greatly impacts the amount of traffic across the Royal Park Bridge,” the letter read. “Since this project requires one westbound lane of traffic to be closed, having a significant portion of the project occur during high season will cause gridlock entering and exiting the Town of Palm Beach.”
FDOT then agreed to meet with town officials, and the agency officially announced last week that it would delay the project until the spring to reduce impact on traveling. The new start date of the project is expected to be May 7, 2023.
“As far as I can see, FDOT has been very responsive to our needs and the needs of our residents,” Moore told Palm Beach Daily News. “That's a big plus. It's a good sign for the coming months.”