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Our Town by William Kelly: Coast Guard accepts public comment on reduced bridge openings

Residents and businesses have until June 20 to comment on a federal plan to permanently reduce weekday rush-hour navigational openings on the Flagler Memorial, Southern Boulevard, and Royal Park bridges.

The U.S. Coast Guard is considering the proposal to permanently curtail the openings to once per hour, between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., and between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., each week on Monday through Friday.

Public Comment is being accepted online at

The reduced openings schedule has been in effect since January on a test basis after Palm Beach and other communities asked the Coast Guard for relief from bridge-related traffic congestion during peak travel periods.

Mayor Danielle Moore told the Palm Beach Civic Association Friday that fewer rush-hour bridge openings have helped to ease traffic congestion in the town without adversely affecting boaters.

“There has been no negative impact – only a positive impact for our residents,” Moore said. “Any time we can keep the traffic flowing, it’s a plus for us.”

She said it’s important for the town to work with the Coast Guard to ensure the best possible conditions for motorists and boaters.

“We have residents who are also boaters, and we don’t want to negatively impact them,” Moore said.

She encouraged residents to register their comments with the Coast Guard about making the reduced-openings schedule permanent. “We want them to participate,” she said.

The Coast Guard first reduced rush-hour navigational openings for the Flagler Memorial Bridge last August. It followed suit with the other two bridges at the town’s request.

In a May 30 letter to Coast Guard Commander Randall D. Overton, of the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami, Palm Beach Civic Association Chairman Michael Pucillo stated the Association’s support for making the reduced openings schedule permanent.

“We believe that the reduction in rush-hour openings on the three bridges has helped to alleviate traffic congestion,” Pucillo wrote.

Read the full letter from the Palm Beach Civic Association to the US Coast Guard HERE.

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