Before the first bridge spanned the New River in Fort Lauderdale, residents and visitors crossed the waterway on a ferry, started in 1893 by Frank Stranahan, City founder. In 1904, the first Andrews Avenue Bridge was built. It was a fixed, one-way bridge that was replaced in 1917 by a two-lane bridge at a cost of $24,000. By 1949, the population of Fort Lauderdale was almost 40,000 (up from 2,000 in 1920) and traffic congestion on the bridge was a problem. A replacement, four-lane, arched, single drawbridge was built for $500,000. However, traffic continued to increase, and in 1981, the local government built a $5 million drawbridge in its place.
Andrews Avenue Bridge (background), c. 1904
This bridge has served the traveling public for more than 38 years and currently allows for the crossing of approximately 30,000 vehicles every day. Other than regular maintenance-related repairs, the bridge has not received any upgrades or refurbishments. The original 38-year-old machinery is still in place and has exceeded its useful life.
Looking south, Andrews Avenue Bridge, c. 1925
Broward County has allocated $8.8 million to rehabilitate the bridge. The project, which started in the summer of 2018 will provide for:
- Replacement of original electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, and emergency response systems
- Upgrade of pedestrian ramp (located on the south side of the bridge) to comply with ADA requirements
- Renovation of the tender house
- Upgrade of the bridge deck to include noise-reducing wheel paths
- Addition of underdeck lighting to illuminate the Riverwalk
Looking southeast, Andrews Avenue Drawbridge, c. 1961
Traffic impacts related to the construction will include permanent lane closures beginning at the end of May 2019 until the completion of the project in March 2020. A 30-day, full closure of the bridge will take place from September 9through October 8, 2019, barring any unforeseen conditions or weather delays. Posted signs will guide southbound traffic and pedestrians onto SW 2nd Street travelling east to the SE 3rd Avenue bridge. From there, SE 7th Street will lead back west to Andrews Avenue to continue travelling south. Signs will lead Northbound traffic and pedestrians onto SE 7th Street travelling east to the SE 3rd Avenue bridge. From there, SE 2nd Street will lead back west to Andrews Avenue.
When the project is complete, residents will have a brand new, safer, quieter, more reliable and aesthetically pleasing bridge connecting the banks of the New River.
For more information about the Andrews Avenue Drawbridge Rehabilitation Project, please contact Project Manager, Harry Diaz, P.E. at 954-357-6040.