This Local Notice to Mariners Update, concerning ongoing construction at the Twin Highway Amelia Island Bridges (SRA1A)south of Fernandina, appeared in March of this year. Since that time we’ve received no complaints from cruisers about safety issues there, but as Capt. Kremski warns and explains below, that has definitely changed. Capt. Kremski has notified the Chief of Operations of 7th District Bridge Branch whose response is also below. Until corrections are made by the contractor, please use caution at the SR A1A bridge.
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – ST SIMONS SOUND TO TOLOMATO RIVER – AMELIA RIVER BRIDGE:
Bridge Painting/Update March 27, 2012.
The Coast Guard Bridge Branch has approved a vertical clearance reduction of four foot reducing the vertical clearance to 61 feet for one half of the navigable channel at the SR A1A Bridge across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway mile 721.0, Fernandina Beach, Nassua County, Florida, from April 9, 2012 through March 15, 2013. Gemstone, LLC will ensure that the proper lighting is displayed at the lowered portions of the scaffolding and will be changing the clearance gauges to reflect the vertical clearance reduction. Ref: LNM 10 through 48-12 Chart: 11489
We went through the bridge southbound yesterday [12/11/12], there was scaffolding hanging down about 2 feet below the bridge for one-half the channel width, and there was a small barge in the unobstructed side of the channel replacing the fender system which is shared with the railroad bascule bridge (there is a separate LNM out on the fender replacement). No tide boards on the north side at all, and only the regular tide board is in place on the south side – the temporary tide boards described in the local notice to mariners were not in place as required.
I went through about an hour and a half before low tide. Combine the construction obstructions, lack of compliance with the permit requirements by the contractor, missing tidal gauges and the two to three knot current through the bridge while I wove my twenty six foot beam catamaran around the barge and through the gap in overhead construction, I’d say it is the most dangerous man-made situation I have ever had my boat in in well over 10,000 miles of cruising in seven countries in this boat. Because of the railroad bridge, you cannot see the dangers southbound until you are almost inside the fender system, and by then there is no room to turn around and retreat! It also seems like the overhead painting contractor and the fender replacement contractor should co-ordinate to obstruct the same half of the channel on the same time, so that same half the channel is available clear through the fender system and bridges.
Thanks you for the report. I have advised the contractor to correct the deficiencies.
Seventh Coast Guard District
Chief of Operations Section