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Boeing 777 crashes while landing at SFO

A plane crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport Saturday morning after its tail came off while it was touching down on the runway.

According to a witness, around 11:20 a.m. the plane was just about to land -- its landing gear had come down -- when the tail of the plane came off.

After wobbling for a minute, the aircraft flipped upside down, coming to a stop on runway on it's back.

The plane, reportedly a Boeing 777, was coming from South Korea, according to flight tracking information.

Check back for more updates.

Flagler Bridge drivers: Traffic patterns about to change as construction proceeds

The ramp from the westbound Flagler Memorial Bridge onto northbound Flagler Drive will reopen with a new traffic light at the base of the exit ramp a week from Friday on May 17, the state’s department of transportation said.

Construction of a replacement for the bridge commonly referred to as the “north bridge” will require several interim changes to the traffic pattern coming off the bridge from Palm Beach and into West Palm Beach starting May 17.

Right now the drawbridge spans the Intracoastal Waterway and crosses over Flagler Drive. That overpass will be replaced with an “at-grade” intersection with traffic signals. The project is estimated to cost $94.2 million.

Next week when the ramp reopens the DOT reports the following traffic pattern changes will be in effect:

Westbound drivers who take the ramp to North Flagler Drive will be required to stop on red at the signal at the base of the ramp; drivers going north or south on Flagler Drive will be required to stop on red at the new signal to allow drivers coming off the ramp to go either north or south on Flagler Drive; drivers going north from the ramp will not be able to turn left onto 6th Street; drivers going east on 6th Street will not be able to go left on Flagler Drive; and drivers exiting the Bank of America drive-thru will not be able to go north on Flagler Drive.

Special Town Council Meeting: Flagler Memorial Bridge Update - “You have yourselves a bridge”

Town Council chambers. Mayor Gail Coniglio, Council President David Rosow, President Pro Tem Robert Wildrick, Councilmen William Diamond, Richard Kleid and Michael Pucillo all present.

Rosow: Not a town hall forum. No public comments.

Coniglio: We have been very fortunate with response from government officials. Community wants bridge to remain open. Assurance of smooth operation of Royal Park Bridge during construction.

Asks for unvarnished truth, the good, bad and the ugly.

Introduces DOT staff in room.

Ananth Prasad, secretary, Florida Department of Transportation: Good to be here. Niece got married at The Breakers, have familiarity with Palm Beach. Family in Miami, Boca Raton, Delray Beach.

Where are we going?

Flagler Bridge constructed in 1938. Life span 50 years. Currently build for 80-year lifespan.

Infrastructure important issue.

Three rehabs over the past 25 years.

Functionally obsolete.

If bridge is unsafe, we close it.

Goes over construction schedule, closures, settlement, etc.

Doesn’t know how deep the pilings are. No records.

Standard policy to keep roads open. Temporary closures sometimes, depending.

Ocean Avenue bridge in Lantana not a DOT project (closed).

After settlement, engineers are conservative, called for closure of bridge due to safety issues.

Wanted to know if bridge should be closed, repaired…

Commends Coniglio for her efforts. Notes Llywd Ecclestone meeting with Governor Rick Scott.

What are we gonna do?

Costly effort. Create a “redundant foundation system” around existing bridge. Driving micropiles around bridge perimeter on three side. Displace soil the least amount. Takes timber piles out of the equation.

Work to be done at night. May have to close at night. Won’t close bridge.

Will take six months to repair bridge, cost $5 million-plus. Bridge will stay in place until new bridge is built.

Applause in the chamber.

Current completion is fall 2015, will push back for as long as it takes to repair bridge.

If repair takes six months to complete, new bridge construction will begin after that.

“You have yourselves a bridge.”

The $94 million budget will be exceeded.

Do our darnedest to keep the existing bridge open.

Micropiles have to be ordered. Then work can begin.

Traffic management plan developed in case of a daytime bridge closure.

Palm Beach's Flagler bridge damage discovery detailed in FDOT documents

Engineer: ‘Condition of the bascule is critical’

Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad is set to visit Palm Beach Tuesday to present an engineering assessment on whether the Flagler Memorial Bridge can be stabilized and remain open while its replacement is constructed.

The DOT chief may also present other alternatives, such as the feasibility of constructing a temporary bridge, in his meeting with the Town Council. The assessment is by engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

A Nov. 6 letter from Timothy J. Noles, principal of Hardesty & Hanover, the engineering firm on the design/build team for the replacement bridge, suggests that fortifying the existing, damaged bridge could be challenging, at the least. The bridge has experienced settling due to construction vibration levels at or below 0.2 inches per second, Noles said in a letter to PCL Civil Constructors project manager Ryan Hamrick. “It’s our opinion that the condition of the bascule is critical.”

Noles writes:

“The following potential mitigation measures were evaluated and found not to address the settlement issue:

Removal of Truck Traffic: Although vibrations due to truck traffic are larger in measured magnitude than those due to the drilled shaft operations, the duration is much shorter and frequency of occurrence is much longer than the vibrations caused by drilled shaft casing embedment. We do not believe removal of trucks will prevent the settlement from occurring …

“Crutch Bents: Crutch bents (lateral structures) can be installed to support the east flanking span to ensure this fracture-critical span is supported if severe distress causes the connection to the rack frame to fail. However, there is no practical method of supporting the existing bascule pier. There is a concern of an increased eccentric load on the timber piles. Access to existing timber piles would require drilling through the adjacent rock layer and further damage to the existing foundation. Also, there is a possibility construction of the new drilled shafts near the existing bascule piers would be compromised by the grout.

Alternative Construction Methods: Drilled shafts can be installed using an oscillator, which has proven to cause less vibration than the current method. However, using an oscillator requires a reaction frame supported on steel pipe piles to counteract the forces necessary to install the casing for the drilled shaft. This reaction frame would require approximately 6 pipe piles (per shaft) that would need to be installed into a firm rock layer. The installation of the pipe piles would result in the similar vibrations in magnitude and duration as the measured vibrations” (of work done by PCL before it stopped drilling shafts near the old bridge this year).”

— DAVID ROGERS

Correspondence among Florida Department of Transportation officers, the engineers and the contractor building the replacement for the 75-year-old Flagler Memorial Bridge pinpoint when engineers realized the extent that construction preparation for the new bridge was damaging the existing span.

Those records, released to the Palm Beach Daily News this week, also note that slight settling of the east half of the bridge into the Intracoastal Waterway occurred even when crews working weren’t drilling shafts for the new bridge’s foundation.

Construction on the new $94 million bridge began in mid-October. Settlement of the south side of the east bascule pier, first recorded Oct. 19, spurred misalignment of the locking mechanism on the current span a number of times. The 1938 bridge was built on wood pilings.

The design/build team consists of Tampa-based PCL Civil Constructors and the infrastructure engineering firm Hardesty & Hanover. At contractor PCL’s recommendation, the Flagler bridge was closed to vehicular traffic from Nov. 5-12.

On Nov. 11-12, the design/build team conducted tests to determine whether the bridge could handle trucks of the maximum legal weight limit. Before the settlement issue arose, trucks of all legal weights were allowed on the bridge. Commerical trucks can easily weigh 10 tons or more. PCL determined the tests caused no additional settlement at the east bascule pier.

At engineer Hardesty & Hanover’s recommendation, however, the DOT soon thereafter re-opened two of the bridge’s four lanes to vehicular traffic, but excluded vehicles weighing more than 5 tons.

On Nov. 12, Michael Sileno, principal associate with Hardesty & Hanover, directed PCL to continually monitor the structure for additional signs of settlement and distress, and to bore into the soil around two drill shafts for the new bridge that are close to the existing bridge. The soil borings would detect additional settlement.

PLC reported the old bridge settled an additional 1/16 inch on Nov. 14 — when no major construction was occurring, according to a memo by Sileno.

That put the total settling at 1 5/8 inches, according to DOT officials, the documents show.

Sileno recommended to PCL project manager Ryan Hamrick on Nov. 14 that the bridge be closed to traffic if additional settlement of 1/16 inch — or more — occurred, so the machinery of the east movable span and the span locks could be evaluated.

The next day, Nov. 15, Peter Nissen, a senior project engineer with DOT consulting firm New Millennium Engineering, told Hamrick that the situation required more than ongoing observation.

“We agree that, based on your engineer’s assessment, there is no immediate concern with public safety due to yesterday’s settlement of 1/16,” he wrote.

“Additionally, the Design-Build Team previously determined that there is significant concern with total settlement exceeding 2” due to potential operating difficulties with the mechanical system,” Nissen wrote. “We have repeatedly indicated in a number of meetings over the last several weeks the need for the Design-Build Team to complete its engineering evaluation/analysis as well as (provide) identification of a means to stabilize the existing structure.”

Hamrick replied that his team did not exceed the construction vibration level allowed specified by the DOT contract.

“After being awarded the contract, the existing structure started settling at times when PCL was not working and at times when PCL was working, but at vibration levels not exceeding the FDOT allowed threshold,” Hamrick wrote in a Nov. 19 to Nissen. “Either the existing structure has a latent defect or the specifications provided by FDOT are defective.”

In mid-February, after the DOT announced the closing of the bridge was “imminent,” district secretary James Wolfe said the ability to adjust the old bridge’s alignment is finite and that construction of the new bridge would continue to damage the existing bridge and pose an increased risk to the public.

“If one corner of the bridge abutment settles and the other doesn’t, it puts stresses on the concrete and results in cracking. It could result in spalling (flaking and chipping off of concrete) and ultimately result in major failing,” Wolfe said at the time.

Imminent closing of the bridge was pushed to April 1 following a DOT discussion with Mayor Gail Coniglio. DOT Secretary Ananth Prasad is set to present a report by international engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff on potential ways to lessen the impact of closing the north bridge for 18 months, including repairing the existing bridge, at a council meeting set for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall. He is scheduled to speak to the West Palm Beach City Commission at 4 p.m. the same day.

Gov Rick Scott has said the state is open to exploring that scenario or constructing a temporary bridge if either is feasible.

DOT responds, citizen comments

Wolfe: Floating bridge would destroy bridge.

Crowd: So what?

Audience member: Should we have buses to transport people across the other bridges while North Bridge closed?

Drummond: Will look into this.

Candice Cohen: You’ve never been on time. Come up with some ideas. You weren’t on time with the Middle Bridge,

Dr. Mitchell Josephs: Children in trauma situations, adults having a heart attack, need to be transported quickly.

Bridge will affect business in the community. Stop work immediately. Build temporary bridge. Then tackle the, “If this bridge closes, I’m going to be the first one to jump off it.”

Plass: Looking at idea of a ferry to transport people having health issues.

Gary, a Palm Beach County taxi driver: Has never seen a cop move traffic on the island. Problem with traffic is that you live in Palm Beach and the town’s restrictions. This is Palm Beach’s problem.

Traffic, safety main concerns with planned Southern Boulevard bridge work

Dozens of residents, public officials, organizations and other interested individuals met Monday evening to discuss the proposed design of the Southern Boulevard replacement bridge.

The new bridge will have 6-foot-wide sidewalks in each direction, 10-foot-wide paved shoulders with bike lanes and a left-turn lane from the bridge onto Flagler Drive among other improvements. Once complete, the bridge will extend from Washington Road to SR A1A (South Ocean Boulevard).

Traffic and safety seemed to be the main concerns.

“My concern would be how many bridges are going to be under construction at one time and what that means for traffic,” said Phil Materio, a West Palm Beach resident who lives close to the bridge.

Vanita Saini, design project manager, said construction is scheduled to begin in 2015. She said if the Flagler Memorial Bridge is still at the point where traffic is an issue, construction on the new Southern Boulevard bridge would be put on hold.

“We’re trying to keep traffic the same as it is,” she said.

Some residents also were concerned how traffic would be impacted with just the new bridge construction.

Elizabeth Marshall, a landscape architect in West Palm Beach, said she was concerned with parking changes. While no parking spaces are being removed with the new design, one parking lot along the span will be moved from the south side of the bridge to the north. She said she was concerned that health, safety and public welfare would be affected by having the parking lot on the opposite side of the beach.

“Tons of families, kayakers, bikers, people having picnics and others use that beach,” she said. “Now they will have to cross an incredibly busy and heavy volume street to get there.”

Department of Transportation representatives said they will work with Marshall and others to come up with solutions to the problem.

Michael Roefaro of West Palm Beach was concerned with noise and the view.

“Our view will be cut off from the West Palm side while on the [Donald] Trump side, they’re leaving it where it is,” he said.

John Olson, a DOT representative, said as part of the new design plan, the existing movable bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway will be replaced with a new two-lane bridge. The new bridge will be constructed north of the existing bridge and be about 13 feet higher.

Another concern was safety.

Gail Levine of West Palm Beach said she was worried the new pedestrian-friendly bridge also would attract more homeless residents to the area.

“The main thing I wanted was for them to keep in mind the security and safety of citizens when building the bridge,” she said.

Residents with questions about the bridge design project can contact Saini at (954) 777-4468 or by email at Vanita.Saini@dot.state.fl.us.

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