How to make a great Southern Boulevard Bridge over the intracoastal

In recent weeks the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has issued new policies that makes one think they are finally treating all modes of transportation as equal and understanding that our road rights of way have tremendous place making potential. These policies include buffered bike lanes and making highway beautification a design objective.

So we have a Department that is finally starting to get it, but the Southern Boulevard Bridge is a $90 million project that had its study completed on May 12, 2009 under the old paradigm that created a roadway network with the dubious distinction of having the most bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in the country.

Shown below is the current bridge proposal:

FDOT Proposal for Southern Boulevard Bridge over the Intercoastal
FDOT Proposal for Southern Boulevard Bridge over the Intercoastal

The design is an unimaginative slightly improved replacement of the current bridge. Bicycles get to use the car shoulder and minimum width sidewalks are provided for pedestrians.

The highway section on the causeway is even worse. Unbuffered bike lanes placed right next to the travel lanes and narrow sidewalks

SR-80 Intercoastal Bridge causeway section
SR-80 Intercoastal Bridge causeway section

There have been cyclists fatalities on other intracoastal bridges in Florida with a similar design. The way to build bike facilities to prevent these fatalities is to provide separation of the cyclists from the roadway. This is a relatively new concept in American highway design, but it makes so much sense once you see it. Below is a recent example of where the bike lanes were placed behind the barrier next to the sidewalk.

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Protected Bike Lanes
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Protected Bike Lanes

Would you rather ride your bike behind a barrier or next to a car with a white line providing protection?

In addition to being a safety feature these buffers can also be an aesthetic improvement. Below is a rendering of a citizen group’s plan to add buffered bike lanes to the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami.

Plan Z Rickenback Causeway -
Plan Z Rickenbacker Causeway –

In the rendering above it is easy to imagine the causeway becoming a linear park.

We can do better. One only needs to look north to the West Palm Beach side of the Royal Park Bridge for an example of a world class project executed by FDOT and the City of West Palm Beach.

Royal Park Bridge multimodal path along intracoastal

We need to insist on a great Southern Boulevard Bridge. If you don’t insist on a great project then you are going to get the bare minimum in pedestrian and bicycle accommodations. Remember that the new bridge be will around for at least 75 years. Many of us will not be around to see the replacement of that bridge. Right now the current plans are just lines on paper that aren’t set in stone. FDOT has recently decided to spend an additional $12 million on the project to build a temporary bypass bridge. How about spending a little more to have proper bicycle facilities for the next 75 years?

How you can help: Email the FDOT project manager and tell them you want a safer bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians!

FDOT Project Manager:

Vanita Saini, P.E.

FDOT District IV

3400 West Commercial Blvd.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309-3421

Phone:    (954) 777-4468

Toll Free: (866) 336-8435 x4468


Contact form:




    • Baron Haussmann

      I think the new 11′ lane policy only applies to divided highways, e.x. road has a median.

      However, you bring up a great point. Wider lanes cost more! In addition to construction costs you have more storm water runnoff which has to be mitigated in ponds or in french drain. The pipes have to bigger, because there is more runnoff.

      Every time you repave it costs more. The old flagler bridge had 10` wide lanes and was undivided with no shoulders. It would be interesting to perform a safety study on this bridge versus an intercoastal bridge with wider lanes. I would be surprised if there is any safety advantage.

      10′ lanes are a little tight, but 11′ lanes and 8′ shoulders would make a great compromise and would easily meet aashto standards. Fdot goes above nationl minimums.

      The new flagler bridge will have 8′ shoulders. A decision to provide 10′ shoulders versus 8′ shoulders has real world costs.

  1. Monireh

    The separation of the bickers and the pedestrians are excelent idea!
    Hopefully they will do the same at ROYAL PARK BRIDGE.
    The mixed bichers and the Pedestrians on the Pedestrian sections are very disturbing to the Pedestrians since the bickers are NOT using the Bicycle lines !

  2. Pingback: How to make a great Southern Boulevard Bridge – Part #2 | Walkable West Palm Beach

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