17th St. Causeway Bridge

Project Detail

The Southeast 17th Street bridge is a bascule drawbridge located just north of the Port Everglades cut. The causeway goes from the west side off US1/Federal Highway eastward over the ICW and twists northward, becoming A1A along the Fort Lauderdale beach. The western approach is known as the Commodore Brook Causeway, while the actual bridge is named after former Florida congressman E. Clay Shaw, Jr.

Project Highlights

The bridge’s innovative bascule-span superstructure displays structural efficiency, economy, and reduced maintenance requirements. Its configuration incorporates the use of steel-box main girders, floor-beams with moment-resisting connections, and a lightweight Exodermic bridge deck made composite with the floor-beams and main girders.

  • When open the bridge provides a horizontal clearance of 100’ and a minimum vertical clearance of 26.6’ with the bridge closed.
  • The bridge consists of approximately 958 tons of steel.
  • It has two parallel carriageways. Each carries two 12’ traffic lanes, an 8’ inside shoulder, a 10’ outside shoulder/bike lane and an 8’ sidewalk.
  • The bridge opens on the half and whole hours with 55′ clearance and greatly reduced openings.

Client: Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Area: 210 foot-long center-to-center of trunnions (which are 177’-2” center-to-center of load shoes).

Finished: 2002

Value: $62 Million

Remarks: The new 17th Street Causeway Bridge combines steel and concrete to span 1908’ across the mouth of the Intracoastal Waterway. The dominant main span of the bridge is a steel double-leaf bascule span supported on concrete V-shaped piers.


Winner of the 2004 Engineering Excellence Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies, the 17th Street Bridge provides a signature entrance to this visually stimulating city of Fort Lauderdale. The new bridge was constructed on the same alignment as the existing bridge in order to maintain the connecting roadway alignment and reduce right-of-way costs. The bridge features the first open bascule piers, which were a result of the community-chosen “timeless/contemporary” theme. Nearly 170’ long, the precast concrete segmental approaches rise above the riverbanks and allow the newly available property to be used for park areas and parking.

the challenges

Among the many challenges, one was to keep the existing traffic flow operational while building the new bridge. The old bridge could not simply be demolished and build a new one. We had to put in a temporary bridge south of the existing causeway. In addition to the fact that the FDOT wanted the project done quickly.

project goals

The goal of this project was the replacement of the 17th Street Causeway Bridge with a new movable bridge, to provide a landmark gateway to the area’s renowned beaches and waterways. The solution was to design a one-of-a-kind, double-leaf bascule bridge to replace the existing drawbridge over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The solution was achieved through graceful form, reduced mass, and an uncluttered appearance, without sacrificing structural efficiency and economy.

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