SR A1A North Causeway Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Study
The SR A1A North Causeway Bridge (Bridge Identification Number 940045) is a movable bridge located in St. Lucie County that was constructed in 1963. It spans over the Intracoastal Waterway (ICWW) connecting the barrier island to the mainland in the City of Fort Pierce. In March 2016 the bridge was inspected and certain aspects of the bridge were found to be structurally deficient and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) determined that the bridge should be replaced.
The superstructure and substructure of the bridge obtained satisfactory ratings, yet the poor condition of the bridge deck was deemed structurally deficient. Additionally, the bridge does not meet the navigational guide clearance requirements set forth by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) of 125 feet horizontal clearance. The existing bridge has only 90 feet between the fenders. The bridge operational characteristics were also analyzed. Based on drawbridge opening data collected, a little more than one third of the daily bridge openings interrupt vehicular traffic flows during peak hour/peak volume traffic periods. Therefore, this bridge is categorized as an operational area of concern.
A previous study conducted in July 2011 recommended replacement of the deck as the most practical and cost effective solution to the deficient part of the bridge structure. Nevertheless, due to the naturally corrosive environment which will continue to degrade the rest of the bridge structure, the insufficient horizontal clearance, and the poor operational characteristics of the current bridge, replacement of the bridge is recommended to safely and effectively maintain access between the mainland and the barrier island.
- Improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists
The existing bridge has pedestrian facilities on one side. Proposed alternatives will evaluate sidewalks for both sides (separated from traffic by a barrier) as well as accommodations for bicyclists. The goal of this evaluation is to maximize the safety of the various modes of transportation using this facility.
- Perform traffic analysis to improve operation
A detailed traffic analysis will be performed during the PD&E study. This traffic analysis will consider other improvements (transit, roadway, etc.) planned nearby this project and their effect on traffic flow. The goal of this traffic analysis is to minimize delay for the various modes of transportation in the area.
- Evaluate bridge replacement alternatives
The project team will evaluate bridge replacement alternatives that will address structural deficiencies of the bridge as well as operational concerns associated with frequent openings. The goal is to minimize delay for the various modes of transportation in the area.
- Minimize environmental impacts associated with improvements
The project is located in the Indian River-Vero Beach to Ft. Pierce aquatic preserve and is in an environmentally sensitive area. In addition, the area is important for recreation. The project team will evaluate alternatives during this PD&E study to avoid and minimize impacts to environmental resources resulting from replacement of the bridge. The avoidance and minimization of environmental impacts includes natural, physical, social and cultural resources within the project area. Commitments will be drafted as part of the environmental documentation and used throughout future phases of the project. A mitigation plan will be evaluated to compensate for unavoidable impacts.