Boats traveling through Florida will encounter the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine. At present the localnewspaper, “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 upon the bridge. Over 100 resident comments for reduced bridge openings have been filed with the Coast Guard.
The city of St. Augustine replaced the Bridge of Lions in 2005 across the AICWW and it is causing major traffic
jams. The city chose to duplicate a 90-year-old, 1927, antiquated bridge design. 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 on the Bridge of Lions. The Coast Guard conducted their open comment time and determined the citizens of St. Augustine were justified in their request and granted opening restrictions. The city is again requesting even further restrictions.
In the past, boating groups were not organized nor involved in preserving reasonable access to the waterway. You are now requested to send a comment to the Coast Guard to preserve our “Boaters Rights”. It doesn’t matter where you live or if you will ever boat in the area.
Your comment is extremely important!!
Present opening restrictions:
Mon.-Fri. bridge openings on the hour and half from 7:00 AM-6:00 PM except 8:00 AM, 12:00 noon,
and 5:00 PM, Weekends on the hour and half from 7:00 AM-6:00 PM
Mon.-Fri. increase hour and half opening time from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, including no openings at 8:00
AM, 12:00 noon, 5:00 PM. Weekends extend hour and half openings from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM and no
openings from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM.
1. Please, contact; https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=USCG-2016-0723-0001
2. Stating your opposition to any further Bridge of Lions opening restrictions. You may want to
include a couple of the enclosed points of concern. We encourage you to use your own terminology.
Your communication needs only to be a few sentences.
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 the design does not meet Coast Guard bridge regulations.
> Angular to the bridge are strong currents due to the presence of the Atlantic Ocean inlet. Also,high
spring tides and lunar tide rates make it difficult for power vessels to stand position, and sail boats
must circle until opening. In the winter when darkness is earlier, the city lights will add a further
distraction. Now St. Augustine wants these vessels to stack up in close proximity for scheduled night
openings. The proposed night time decrease of bridge openings from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM will add to
an already dangerous condition.
> 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.
> St. Augustine 90 slip marina, a new 110 ball 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,
and increased popularity of destinations such as the Keys, Bahamas, and now Cuba
> Both private and commercial vessels utilize this bridge, Schooner Freedom and the pirate ship Black
Raven located at St. Augustine Marina require multiple Bridge of Lions openings for their passengers
through day, evening, and sunset hours. Reducing bridge openings, stacking boats will increase boat
congestion with the commercial traffic.
> The U.S. Department of Transportation concluded a six-year study, presented to St. Augustine in
1999 (prior to bridge construction) stating 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 antiquated automotive traffic flow design. Nor does the 1927 design take into consideration the
steady increase of boat traffic.
We need our membership participation within the Coast Guard comment period to be effective. In
this case, respondent numbers and reason given will greatly influence the Coast Guard decision.
Please send your comment to the Coast Guard expressing opposition for unjustified proposed restrictions upon the AICWW by reducing Bridge of Lions openings.
Mike Bodin, MTOA Public Advocate