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By: R. Michael Brown, Civic Association Communications Director -- The Civic Association reported in April of this year that the Flagler Bridge (North Bridge) was continuing to have malfunction problems and closures, the latest on Sunday, August 5.

UPDATE [From Angel Gardner, spokesperson for FDOT] 

"A bridge malfunction occurred at approximately 9:20 a.m. Sunday at the Flagler Memorial Bridge. The malfunction occurred as a result of a loose limit switch providing conflicting information on the status of the southeast span. The limit switch is an electrical/mechanical component that provides information on the position of the spans. A bolt on the limit switch arm had loosened, moving the limit switch out of position. To correct the problem, the limit switch arm was put back into position and tightened. The bridge reopened at approximately 11:16 a.m."

"As a result of the malfunction, the bridge operational testing period will be extended for another 60 days."

Additional Questions / Answers 8-10-2018

The Civic Association sent questions about the bridge to the FDOT team and here are their answers:

What is the testing plan is to resolve the Flagler bridge malfunction issues?
We are currently in the second operational testing period. This operation testing period allows any potential issues to be addressed and resolved. With each malfunction that occurred, the cause was found and resolved.

What engineers are looking into the problems? Who are they and from what firms/organizations?
PCL Civil Contractors company is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the bridge. PCL will remain financially responsible for the operation and maintenance of the bridge until final acceptance at a cost to them of approximately $40,000 a month. They are responsible for resolving any issues related to the bridge. On Thursday, PCL’s subcontractor, Edwards Electric, performed additional preventive maintenance on various bridge components to preempt possible malfunctions. They are expected to be out there for the next three weeks. The designers of the bridge, Hardesty & Hanover, are also inspecting and monitoring the bridge. In addition, the Department’s project team continues to monitor and supervise bridge maintenance and operations.

Are more outside consultants being used?
There are currently no outside consultants being used by FDOT at this time.  An outside consultant was brought in by the Department in April 2018, which cost approximately $15,000.

How does the the 60-day non-malfunction stipulation work in the PCL contract?
The contract requires the bridge to operate for 60 days without a malfunction. If a malfunction occurs, the bridge operation testing period will restart for another 60 days.

How confident is the state in the bridge operation? Confident enough to take it over?
FDOT has required the 60-day operation testing period, free of malfunctions, to ensure the bridge is operating properly prior to department acceptance.

Extra money has been spent to evaluate and fix problems in the last 12 months. Did the taxpayer pay for those or did it come out of the bridge contractor’s budget?
PCL is financially responsible for any maintenance or repairs.

When the state takes over the bridge, how big is the budget to fix and maintain the operation of the bridge?
Components of the bridge will be under warranty for up to 10 years, depending on the parts or mechanisms that may need to be replaced or repaired. The Public Information Officer said she will provide the cost of operating tand maintaining the bridge after the state takes it over.

 

FROM THE ORIGINAL STORY:

The last we heard from the bridge contractors was that the software for operating the bridge needed “tweeking.” That was May 8th. (See the May Civic Association Story)

Apparently, a software upgrade wasn't enough. The bridge continues to break down. 

Late last week the Palm Beach Post / Daily News reported that the problems continue and their reporter, Joe Capozzi, did a full, detailed, investigative report. On Sunday morning when the story was fresh on the cover of the Shiny Sheet, Flagler Bridge broke down again at 9:37 a.m. It was down until 11:15 a.m.

No explanation has come from the bridge contractor, consultants, or FDOT for the Sunday malfunction [See UPDATE Above]. It was the latest breakdown since June 7.

That date is important because PCL Civil Contractors were supposed to complete its project obligations, which includes a stipulation in the contract for the bridge to be malfunction-free for 60 days, and then turn it over to the state. The latest breakdown on August 5 was exactly 60 days. Does that mean the clock will start again for another 60-days before they turn the bridge over? We are waiting for a statement from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on that status.

The bridge has had 26 breakdowns in its first 12 months. Each time officials thought they had found a fix. Then the bridge would break down days or weeks later.

The Civic Association is following and supporting Mayor Coniglio’s leadership with the contractors and the state to push them to get it right.

The season is coming. A booming economy and exploding tourism in Florida is going to bring more traffic to West Palm and the Town of Palm Beach. Add in Presidential visits and a malfunctioning Flagler bridge is a formula for unimaginable gridlock in the Town of Palm Beach.

Stay tuned - this is a developing story...

25 breakdowns in its first 11 months: What happened to the new Flagler Bridge? $(Palm Beach Post)
By Joe Capozzi - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer