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Butler to A1A: A Bumpy Ride to the Beach

If you’ve ever traveled toward the Beaches on Butler Blvd., you have undoubtedly experienced the bumpy ride over the Intracoastal Waterway.

The eastbound bridge’s construction started in 1986 with the goal of easing congestion for traffic crossing the Intracoastal. At the time, that span of Butler Blvd. was a two-lane road.

The new bridge was completed in the late ‘80s and dedicated as the Arthur N. Sollee Bridge. The completion of the bridge brought major traffic relief… but then people started noticing the bumpiness.

So why is the bridge so damn bumpy?

Well, there are actually a couple of different stories about how it happened.

Some say the bridge was designed this way on purpose as a way to slow down speeders. There were concerns around that time about accidents happening at the intersection of Butler Blvd. and State Road A1A, so a design intended to have a speed bump effect isn’t necessarily unfathomable. That being said, it’s still pretty unlikely.

An alternate theory was presented in a 2010 article by Jeff Reece for The Florida Times-Union. Reece says that the bumpy surface was likely an accident – a construction defect, specifically. JTA then sued the construction company, who countersued, and nothing really ever came of it.

We couldn’t confirm the lawsuit, but it definitely does seem to be caused by a construction defect. And most accounts of the construction story do state that JTA at least in some way attempted to get the construction company to fix the issue.

What we know for sure is that the bridge never got fixed. JTA turned over control of the bridge to the Florida Department of Transportation in the ‘90s, and FDOT has no plans to alter the bridge’s surface.

So for now, when you head to the beach, you’ll get to enjoy a mini-roller coaster ride on the way there.

3 Comments

  1. Who wrote that article, lol? The beams were not constructed correctly. When prestressed concrete beams are constructed, they are designed to have a camber (upward bend) when the prestrees is released. This is done so when the ‘dead load’ or concrete deck is poured, the camber (or bend) is removed and you have a flat driving surface. The project should never have been accepted by the owner. http://www.concreteconstruction.net/how-to/construction-of-elevated-concrete-slabs_o

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