Update on Bridge of Lions Schedule Controversy, St. Augustine, FL, AICW Statute Mile 778
Marine Trawlers Owners Association continues to be active in seeking political settlements to legislative actions adversely affecting boaters. A call by city officials and the local populace to further restrict the opening schedule at the Bridge of Lions is currently under consideration by the USCG. Our thanks to Mike Bodin and Peter Colket for this information.
A large Ahoy Mates call is sent out to the boating community to protect our boating rights from unnecessary new laws that will restrict our use of the waterways [including the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, FL].
Please include this update on the Bridge of Lions. The St. Augustine Fl. city residents are now at a count of over 100 responses to reduce bridge openings to the Coast Guard.
Another matter on the AICWW, boats traveling south through Florida will encounter the Bridge of Lions (18’ vertical clearance) in St. Augustine. The local newspaper, “St. Augustine Record”, is encouraging residents of the city to flood the Coast Guard with comments favoring reduced bridge openings due to automotive traffic back up
Please, if you would, contact,
Stating your opposition to any further Bridge of Lions opening restrictions and you may want to include a couple of the enclosed points of interest. Your communication only needs to be a few sentences.
The city of St. Augustine recently replaced the Bridge of Lions across the AICWW at St. Augustine which is causing major traffic jams. The city chose to duplicate the 90-year-old antiquated architecture of the original 1927 Bridge of Lions. Today, St. Augustine has 4 million tourists per year and the city’s residential population has dramatically increased from 1927. The City of St. Augustine has created their own never ending problem with regards to traffic congestion.
A few years ago, the city contacted the Coast Guard to establish bridge opening restrictions. The Coast Guard conducted their open comment time and determined the citizens of St. Augustine were justified in their request and granted their requested opening restrictions. The city is now requesting even further restrictions. In the past, boating groups were not organized nor involved in preserving reasonable access to the waterway.
Basic present opening restrictions
Daily bridge openings on the hour and half from 7:am-6:pm except 8 am, 12 noon, and 5 pm, Weekends on the hour and half from.7:am-6:pm
Daily increase hour and half opening time from 6:pm to 9 pm, including no openings at 8 am, 12 noon, 5pm. Weekends extend hour and half openings from 6 pm to 9 pm and no
openings from 3:pm to 4: pm.
Points of Concern:
> Bridge of Lions 76’ width is the narrowest of the 91 bridges along Florida’s AICWW, it is the most struck bridge by vessels, and determined not to meet Coast Guard bridge regulations.
> Extreme perpendicular to the bridge currents are encountered due to the presence of the Atlantic Ocean inlet, high spring tides and lunar tide rates.
> Modern Route 312 bridge (65’clearance) is located just 2 miles south of Bridge of Lions and could help to relieve Bridge of Lions traffic congestion
> 2 marinas, a mooring field, and an anchoring area next to the Bridge of Lions is a cause for increased vessel congestion
>The AICWW traffic has increased from 1927 rates due to more boaters traveling with air conditioning upon it for destinations to the Keys, Bahamas, and now Cuba
> With only 18’ vertical clearance all sail boats passing will require openings. Due to high currents, sail boats will have to circle for 30 or 60-minutes waiting for the bridge to open.
> Increased currents make it difficult for power vessels to stand position, while sail boats in close proximity are for the anticipated bridge opening in close proximity
> Increasing the 6pm to 9pm period for half hour opening restrictions will result in winter months when it’s dark for boats to stack up to wait for the next bridge opening, sail boats will be circulating, power standing position, marina and mooring boats leaving and arriving, the city lights in the background all in a close proximity is dangerous.
>The two commercial Tourist boats go out and return 4 times each, daily they require bridge openings. Request they proceed south along the AICWW requiring no bridge openings
> The U.S. Department of Transportation concluder a six-year study and presented it to the city of St. Augustine in 1999 concluding the Bridge of Lions 1927 design was “functionally Obsolete”. St. Augustine disregarded the DOT study and completed the Bridge of Lions in 2005 to the original 1927 design. Thus, traffic congestion was not relieved.
> The city is asking for automotive traffic relief at the expense by increasing boating congestion to the determent of safety.
Pease send a comment to the Coast Guard expressing opposition for unjustified proposed navigation restrictions
upon the AICWW by reducing Bridge of Lions openings.
MTOA Public Advocate
Posted by Peter Colket, President MTOA on USCG comments page:
I am commenting on behalf of Marine Trawler Owners Association. MTOA is a national boating club of the 2.341 members, 29% of whom are Florida residents.
MTOA members oppose further restrictions to the Bridge of Lions opening schedule because of boaters’ safety. Reducing the number of openings at any bridge causes congestion on the waterway, which can increase the likelihood of collisions. This is especially true in locations where swift currents affect the movements of vessels. Bridge of Lions is such a location. In addition to swift currents, boaters must be concerned about the proximity of mooring fields on both sides of the bridge, the City Marina on the South side, and vessel traffic entering and departing the marina and moorings.
We sympathize with people in land vehicles waiting for bridges, and we understand the traffic congestion issues in St. Augustine. But solving those problems by increasing hazards on the waterway is no solution. We urge the U.S. Coast Guard not to change the Bridge of Lions opening schedule as requested by the City of St. Augustine.
Peter K. Colket
Palm Coast, Florida
Marine Trawler Owners Association