The traffic pattern changes for this Sunday's Jaguars game could be a trial run for what might happen if the Mathews Bridge is not reopened in time for the Georgia-Florida game.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced Thursday afternoon that all four lanes of the Hart Bridge will be westbound from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday for traffic going to the Jaguars-Chargers game. Traffic will revert to normal at 2 p.m.
"I want to make the experience better, so committed to adding resources, being a little bit aggressive. We are trying to accommodate these fans," Asst. Chief Leonard Propper said.
Police urge motorists to not follow their GPS or computer-generated routes on Sunday, but pay attention to signage and officers stationed along the route for directions.
DOCUMENT: JSO game-day traffic plan for October 20
Police encourage fans to allow for an extra 45 minutes, and they recommend taking a Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus or a water taxi.
State Rep. Lake Ray was told after a tour of the crippled Mathews Bridge on Wednesday that the span dropped by 4 inches after being struck by a ship last month. Engineers have raised the span by 2 inches since repairs started.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, the bridge will not be partially reopened Monday.
Officials said jacking of the bottom chords continues to be monitored and adjusted to restore the geometry of the bridge. They said that effort will run concurrently with permanent repair work.
Load testing for construction loads continue, and heat straightening of the members have started and will continue over the next few days, officials said.
The first portion of permanent repairs will start Friday night, with additional material deliveries on Saturday and Monday.
FDOT has put a $50,000-a-day incentive into the repair contract to try and get the bridge reopened before Nov. 2 -- the annual Bulldogs vs. Gators game that attracts the biggest crowd of the year to EverBank Field.
The game-day traffic change Sunday will cost JSO $4,500 more than usual because of 20 extra officers and overtime.
All mariners are also being advised that portions of the St. Johns River will be closed intermittently to boating traffic Saturday and Sunday.
The East Coast Railroad Bridge will be open for vessel traffic as follows:
- Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with two closings for rail traffic, and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Limited openings will continue until repairs to the railroad bridge are completed.
Officials said the Main Street Bridge will also be closed to vessel traffic Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mariners may contact the bridge tender on VHF Channel 9 or 16 for additional information.