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Ft. Lauderdale’s Attention Drawn to Drawbridge Project

Wed April 19, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Sheila Irvine

By Sheila R. Irvine


The 17th Street Causeway on Florida Route A1A will be “a state-of-the-art” bascule (drawbridge) bridge when it is completed in the summer of 2001, according to Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Neil Birnbaum.

The project, which began in August of 1997, “is about halfway complete,” he said, and half the structure was recently opened to traffic as demolition work on the existing bridge and a temporary bridge has started.

The bridge crosses the Intercoastal Waterway and is “a major access to Fort Lauderdale — the Venice of America,” Birnbaum said.

The old bridge had only a 7.6-meter (25 ft.) clearance, he said. The new bridge will provide 16.8 meters (55 ft.) of vertical clearance, which will result in a 50 percent decrease in bridge openings, allowing sports boats and small sailboats to pass beneath it without the need to raise the drawspan.

“It’s designed with redundant systems and can open and close in about one minute,” Birnbaum said.

The $70-million project made use of a 585-metric-ton (650 ton) Southern Hercules crane barge, the type commonly used to assemble oil rigs, to erect a temporary bridge while construction was going on, Birnbaum said. Also a 540-metric-ton (600 ton), Ringer crane is being used to put 344 pre-cast segmental sections weighing, 54 to 63 metric tons (60 to 70 tons) into place.

The bridge is a “signature bridge with custom-designed piers and columns,” Birnbaum said.

It has exodermic decking rather than steel gratings “to eliminate vibration,” he said.

The new bridge will provide four lanes of traffic with bike and pedestrian lanes as well as an emergency lane, he said.

The completed half of the structure has been striped and configured to carry traffic both east and westbound, allowing for the demolition of the old and the temporary bridge.

Currently, DOT is constructing drill shafts for the second half of the bridge, he said.

Traylor Brothers of Evanville, TN, is the prime contractor. Engineering consultant is Parsons Brinckerhoff Construction services, with a regional office in Tampa.

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