The lanes are still closed hours after the rush hour nightmare


JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Damage to a finger joint on the south side of the Buckman Bridge forced the shutdown of I-295 SB Thursday morning in the midst of rush hour, creating a nightmare for commuters attempting to cross the Saint River -Jean from Orange Park in Jacksonville.

News4Jax learned at 11:30 a.m. that a southbound lane would reopen on the bridge within minutes. Hours later, that still hadn’t happened. The entire south side of the bridge is expected to be open before the evening rush hour, Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Hampton Ray said.

FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan said soldiers received a call Thursday morning about possible damage to the top of the Buckman Bridge span. He said one of the bridge segments raised slightly at one of the expansion joints, causing slight damage to the roadway.

Florida Department of Transportation inspectors were called to the scene and the side of the bridge connecting commuters from Orange Park to the Mandarin was closed.

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“Obviously, on the cautious side, we went ahead and called the engineering team, not only from the construction company, but also from the bridge inspection team from the Department of Transport to be on the way to inspect this damage, ”Bryan said.

Crews work on the Buckman Bridge after closure. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.)

After the bridge was closed for safety reasons, cars stuck between the US 17 exit and the bridge turned back onto the freeway, with law enforcement directing them through the grass median to the side. north of the highway.

Once the traffic was diverted, a car sitting on the south side of the Buckman was also turned over and escorted off the bridge.

Bryan said Thursday morning the inspection was to last for several hours, during which time the south side of the bridge would remain closed.

PICTURES: Crews work on Buckman Bridge as traffic recovers

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“It is one of the largest arteries in our region. We know this will dramatically increase travel times and problems for drivers trying to get to a location of their choice, ”said Bryan. “We understand this is a huge inconvenience for the automotive public. Obviously the last thing we wanted to do is cause this type of inconvenience.

“But we wanted to be careful and make sure the road can be traveled safely. Once we have obtained this authorization, we will open it as quickly as possible. “

Video from Marine 4 under the Buckman Bridge showed FDOT workers repairing what appeared to be a connection point on the bridge between two spans.

Ray said repairs were underway on a damaged finger joint, which is an expansion joint on the bridge.

He said crews treated the repairs as routine maintenance of the bridge and placed metal plates on the bridge from outside lane to another to keep it safe in the meantime for drivers so that the tracks can be reopened.

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“We won’t be reopening the structure until we are absolutely certain that our bridge is safe,” said Ray. “We will never knowingly put people in a dangerous position.”

He said crews responded in force from as far away as Gainesville and St. Augustine.

Ray said in the long run, FDOT does not anticipate having to close the bridge again to make permanent repairs. He said the long-term solution could be accomplished with lane closures without having to re-close the entire south side of the bridge.

“We’re not planning a full detour of the structure,” Ray said.

He said they were still investigating the cause of the damage to the finger joint.

Traffic was forced to redirect south to State Road 16 across the Shands Bridge or north on I-95 to the Fuller Warren Bridge to cross the St. Johns River.

Outside a SR 16 museum, Jim Mortimer said his team was a bit busy as well.

“We usually get visitors who want to come in and see things in the museum. Today we have visitors who want to use the toilet and they are desperate, ”Mortimer said. “It went on and on. I got here at 9am and was lucky it wasn’t that bad, but it picked up all day.

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Marine 4 saw traffic backed up on the much smaller Shands Bridge, which runs from southern Clay County across the river to St. Johns County.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said there was very heavy traffic in Clay County from the Shands Bridge to Green Cove Springs on Highway 17 to Orange Park. Drivers were urged to avoid the area.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.

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