I am a boater and resident of North Hutchinson Island. I have traveled the Intracoastal Waterway from Virginia to Florida many times. Most bridges operate on a scheduled opening basis. To have the Fort Pierce North Causeway Bridge open on demand is ridiculous and a detriment to traffic and safety, especially with regard to fire and ambulance services. If boaters cannot safely operate their vessels while waiting for an opening then they shouldn’t be operating a vessel in the first place!
Bridge opening schedules are posted and also listed in all boater guides. Word of mouth travels like wildfire. There will be no confusion if the bridge schedule is changed to opening every half-hour.
During the current trial period, the bridge opens every 20 minutes on weekdays, but on weekends, when there is even more traffic, it opens on demand. The automobile traffic backup that occurs could be effectively reduced by scheduled opening, allowing motorists and pedestrians alike to plan trips accordingly. They now have to wait as much as 10-15 minutes at a time and no one can guess when this will occur or how many times in an hour or day.! I have personally experienced this wait time.
This is exacerbated by the train schedule as well. The train track crossing is only a short distance from the bridge, adding to the traffic backup.
The added benefit of a change in the bridge schedule would be to reduce the wear and tear on the bridge itself and reduce maintenance and operating costs. It’s a win-win!
Residents have until Dec. 31 to respond to the Coast Guard with their feelings regarding the scheduled openings of this bridge. I hope all interested parties have made their voice heard to support this much needed improvement.
Richard Maher, Hutchinson Island
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