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Old 02-08-2018, 04:18   #1
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Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

Hi All,

As you know, many Florida bridges have morphed from "on demand" opening schedules to three times an hour, or even two. I understand the need to balance the interests of waterway usage with with those of land traffic; I just wonder if the scales have been tipped too far in favor of cars over vessels. Yesterday I opted to "go inside" on the Gulf ICW and had to request four bridge openings (Welch Causeway, Treasure Island Causeway, Corey Causeway, and Tierra Verde). It was a weekday mid-morning, and car traffic on all of the bridges was light. Waiting for the bridge openings added an hour and twenty minutes to my trip. I think that the powers-that-be have been short-sighted in that they look at each bridge and the inconvenience that its opening causes drivers (perhaps a ten minute delay total?) without considering that vessels encounter multiple delays going through multiple bridge openings. When a bridge opens, drivers are only affected once, and if the bridge re-opens ten minutes later, a new group of drivers will be affected, ONCE.

Treading water in a vessel (with wind, current and powerboats that can pass under the closed bridge zipping by) for half an hour entails a bit more more peril than sitting in one's car for ten minutes. In addition, most ICW vessels operate in daylight hours, of which there are a finite number. Anyone else have some thoughts on this issue?
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Old 02-08-2018, 05:12   #2
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

I remember my very first sailing lesson aboard a ballasted keelboat. It was 1979, sailing out of the St Petersburg municipal marina. We went north in the ICW one day, to stop at a place for lunch. We had to wait for the scheduled bridge opening. This is nothing new.


Beyond that, the fact is that there are thousands of cars out there for every boat. It is only natural that the politicians are going to care way more about the cars than the boats. This is inevitable.


Is it fair? I don't know. I do know that I don't really find it that big of a problem to schedule my arrivals to coincide with the published opening times. It is annoying, for sure, but in the grand scheme of things it is a very small annoyance. They're stuck in a car on our lousy, crowded roads. I'm out on my boat. Whose annoyance is greater?


In any case, I really don't think there is anything that can be done. The politicians, who guide the bureaucrats, who control these things, are not likely to risk angering thousands of drivers in order to please a small handful of boaters. So my attitude is one of slightly grudging acceptance. A little extra time sitting on the boat is far better than any time spent sitting in a car. Might as well look on the bright side and just enjoy it.
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Old 02-08-2018, 11:45   #3
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

Daniel, the problem with Florida is all the damned liberals who went down from the Mainland and tried to change the way Things Are Done.

They're mainly middle class, too poor to have a proper paid crew moving their boats. Too poor to have personal helos, but rich enough to have many personal cars and to expect roads they can always be used on. Too poor to pay for mass transit systems (they came down for cheap taxes, not just the weather) and yet, rich enough to expect to buy homed and commute to jobs.

That just messes things up for the idle rich, and makes things worse for the servants, who can't afford to live near their masters any more. It is not a good situation, but fortunately, as sea level rises and everything east of Federal Highway floods out for good, they'll get a second chance.

Fort Lauderdale is pretty much ready to go to war with the new Brightline trains, which the State expects to run up from Miami to Palm Beach and then over to Orlando and perhaps even Tampa. Mass transit, just like on the mainland. Wow. Except...apparently there's a critical bridge over the New River, and once you start having double and triple train traffic per hour, you know, those pesky boats keep getting in the way.

When no one wants to do routine maintenance and things have to be shut down, and no one wants to build above grade or below, or put in higher bridges or newer more reliable ones...there's not going to be any solution to all that. Broward County has done what politicians have done in so many places, they've allowed vastly unplanned overdevelopment and the price is called "crash". The voters who want to drive over the bridges all the time outnumber the boaters who foolishly allowed the bridges to be built fifty(+?) years ago.

The solution? Sure, piss everyone off by raising taxes and building fixed bridges, or at least, higher ones that can remain closed more often. Try running for office on that platform.

The weather down there may be nicer than, say, Detroit or Flint or Newark. And the taxes lower for sure. But like anyplace else, it has its quirks. Wasting hours because no one can figure out how to make plans is apparently one of them. (That's become common all over these days too, even on the Mainland.)
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Old 02-08-2018, 12:07   #4
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

Ridiculous!!!! Far more motorists who are attempting to go home, go to work, pick-up/drop off kids, etc are waiting for you to proceed with your leisure activity. At no point are you entitled to immediate gratification.

You're entitled to passage and were granted passage. Demanding preference and priority is simply egocentric.
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Old 02-08-2018, 12:33   #5
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

Quote:
I just wonder if the scales have been tipped too far in favor of cars over vessels. Yesterday I opted to "go inside" on the Gulf ICW and had to request four bridge openings
I feel your pain, we frequently travel down the GICW from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor. There are twelve bridges along that route...........

We always determine the bridge schedules and write them down. If possible, we slow down to time our arrival or speed up to try to make the next opening.

The closest bridge to me is Anna Maria Island Bridge. I can tell that you on the weekends, if they opened on demand, the bridge would never have a chance to close because of all the boat traffic. Keep in mind, it takes the bridge tender about six to ten minutes to stop traffic, raise, lower and let traffic resume.
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Old 02-08-2018, 13:12   #6
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

Not totally ridiculous. The pre-existing right to navigate the waterway, unobstructed, does take priority over the johnny come lately's who are too cheap to take the ferry, which shares the waters, or to build a proper tunnel or bridge which does not interfere. As is done on the Mainland.

I'd bet you that most of that bridge traffic are visitors, migrants from other places, retirees, tourists, who simply never looked at what they were getting into before they bought their piece of tickytacky in the swamp. And then afterwards, they complain about the heat, the traffic, the overcrowding, the wildlife....all of it was there, they just didn't have the ability to look at those things before they threw wads of cash into buying a tropical dream home in a no-tax state.
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Old 02-08-2018, 13:26   #7
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

Here are a couple of resources that will help with the schedules. They are fairly accurate, but you should check each bridge individually if time is a concern.

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Florida West Coast Cruising and Navigation

Intracoastal Waterway - Florida Route Segment - Bridges and Clearances


Most of the info is accurate. We did find some exceptions on our last run through, Jan. 2018. On the Gulf coast link, you will need to click the link, about half way down, for the bridge schedules.
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Old 02-08-2018, 15:57   #8
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

ICW travel requires planning. Spend some time and get the bridge opening schedules. Then time your approach. Most require a VMG of about 5 kts.

If you miss one, don’t tread water for 30 min. Head away for 5-10 min and then head back, much easier. Although practicing treading water is great docking practice!
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Old 02-08-2018, 16:10   #9
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

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Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
Ridiculous!!!! Far more motorists who are attempting to go home, go to work, pick-up/drop off kids, etc are waiting for you to proceed with your leisure activity. At no point are you entitled to immediate gratification.

You're entitled to passage and were granted passage. Demanding preference and priority is simply egocentric.
You're a very angry person. Enjoy it.
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:01   #10
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

There are 6 bridges between my dock and the open waters of the Atlantic, and there's a significant current flow along the New River in Fort Lauderdale that changes direction with the tides. I have to time my departures and returns carefully to ensure that I'm always going against the flow, and not traveling during rush hour when the bridges lock down due to traffic demand. Fortunately all but one of the bridges open on demand rather than on a schedule, the last one being the 17th Street bridge that opens on the half hour. But I deal with it, it's not really that bad.

I can understand both points of view, being both a boater and a motorist, as I'm sure almost all of us are. Be patient and enjoy the journey :-)

-David
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:06   #11
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

You need more rum, take your time, enjoy the hot chicks waving from their convertibles. Yeah it takes longer so leave earlier.
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:30   #12
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

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Originally Posted by Davy J View Post
The closest bridge to me is Anna Maria Island Bridge. I can tell that you on the weekends, if they opened on demand, the bridge would never have a chance to close because of all the boat traffic.
This is much the same as the 17th St Bridge in Lauderdale. There is usually a line, both NB and SB at each opening on the half hour. If they opened on demand they would have to open it and walk away.

What amazes me about that particular bridge is that it is a high bridge. My mast is cut to make Bacchus ICW friendly but I can't get under this one by just a few feet. Why, if it was that close, didn't they make it 65' and eliminate a fair amount of traffic needing opening? Seems they added to the problem when they could have helped solve it.
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:58   #13
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

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Originally Posted by SV Bacchus View Post
What amazes me about that particular bridge is that it is a high bridge. My mast is cut to make Bacchus ICW friendly but I can't get under this one by just a few feet. Why, if it was that close, didn't they make it 65' and eliminate a fair amount of traffic needing opening? Seems they added to the problem when they could have helped solve it.

Does this help?!!
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:07   #14
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

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Originally Posted by SV Bacchus View Post
This is much the same as the 17th St Bridge in Lauderdale. There is usually a line, both NB and SB at each opening on the half hour. If they opened on demand they would have to open it and walk away.

What amazes me about that particular bridge is that it is a high bridge. My mast is cut to make Bacchus ICW friendly but I can't get under this one by just a few feet. Why, if it was that close, didn't they make it 65' and eliminate a fair amount of traffic needing opening? Seems they added to the problem when they could have helped solve it.
Right?!? Why build a relatively new bridge over the ICW and give it a 55ft clearance? Raise it a few feet and it could have been a fixed bridge, with none of the headaches associated with a bascule bridge. My air draft is 56ft, just too tall to make it without waiting for an opening. I might squeak under at low tide, risking my antennas and masthead instruments in the process. Not worth the risk.

Funny story about the old 17th Street bridge. Back in 1989 I was crewing on one of the maxi racing yachts. We'd just done a refit at Derecktor's, and then stopped at Lauderdale Marina just north of the bridge to fill up with fuel and water for a trip the St. Thomas. Going out through the bridge we ran aground, right in the middle of the span. Had to wait for the tide to lift us off, all during a Friday afternoon rush hour. I'm sure we were not very popular with the motorists stuck waiting for the bridge to close!

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Old 03-08-2018, 10:30   #15
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Re: Florida Bridge Opening Schedules

"Why build a relatively new bridge over the ICW and give it a 55ft clearance?"
Because, one, that's the modern way. Cheap out. And two, that's the Floridia Way. Cheap out.
Florida has a particular problem with highway wrong-way collisions, one of it not the worst in the nation, consistently. Well, it turns out...in order to save money, Florida doesn't build regular clover-leaf interchanges. They usually build a "combined" entry/exit ramp with the lanes for northbound and southbound just separated by a pole, making it especially easy for confused drivers to just get in the wrong lane. With regular cloverleafs, that can't happen, you always know where the corresponding entrance will be. But it saves money.
Same way a couple of years ago the Floridia turnpike authority proudly concluded that after they had added guard rails between the shoulder and the inevitable drainage canal (in just an experimental stretch) that drownings in those canals declined! Who would have thought?! Floridia and Texas take turns being #1 and #2 for leading the nation in drownings from car accidents in drainage canals and sumps, it is a hot contest. But hey, it saves money, keeps taxes low.
New Hampshire and Colorado do something similar, they save money by not putting guardrails on mountain roads, and CO also has a very low cap on damage suits when boulders fall across those roads. It isn't just a Floridia thing to "save money" by not implementing the highest standards. Although, it is somewhat of an art form there.
Where else do they need to put white strobe lights (epilepsy trigger anyone?) on top of school buses, just in case anyone can't figure out what the bright chrome yellow thing, eight feet tall, eight feet wide, and forty odd feet long is?
As all the golfers there say, you just got to play it as it lays.
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