JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the National Transportation Safety Board works to uncover why a snow-covered bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, collapsed, the News4JAX I-TEAM is checking on local bridges.
The National Bridge Inventory gives every bridge a condition of good, fair or poor.
In the database compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, more than 50 bridges in Northeast Florida are classified in poor condition. The label doesn’t necessarily mean the bridge is in danger of collapsing, but it does signal that the structure needs maintenance and continued monitoring. Some of those bridges may only see a dozen cars on a typical day, but others carry tens of thousands of drivers.
One of them is the bridge at Lem Turner Road and the Trout River — which has an average daily traffic rate of 30,500 drivers a day. It’s a bridge that was built in 1957. The area of concern is the bridge’s substructure, which is the portion of the bridge below the surface that distributes loads to below-ground footings.
Also on the list is the northbound and southbound spans of Interstate 95 over the Nassau River. Each side is technically its own bridge, and again, it’s the substructure that’s the area of concern.
Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Hampton Ray says inspectors have a close eye on the structure.
“Florida Department of Transportation has a robust bridge inspection program. At minimum, every two years we inspect our bridges,” Ray said. “Every state bridge on the state system is inspected top to bottom every two years at minimum.”
Ray says bridge inspectors spend a lot of time scrutinizing the stability of the bridge’s foundation in Florida because most bridges are built in brackish water. That salt in the water can increase the rate of deterioration.
“When there is a bridge that is considered structurally deficient, that just means that we go out there more often. And some bridges, I use the expression some bridges need more love, and that’s OK,” Ray said. “It doesn’t mean that the bridge is ever in any unsafe condition, because if it is unsafe, we will shut it down.”
The National Bridge Inventory also includes smaller bridges like one along Lone Star Road that crosses a very small Ginhouse Creek. It carries more than 10,000 cars a day, and again, its substructure had a low rating.
Other heavily-traveled bridges in the Northeast Florida area that were rated in poor condition include:
- In St. Johns County, the bridge carrying U.S. 1 over Oyster Creek, near State Road 207.
- In Bradford County, U.S. 301 over Alligator Creek, near State Road 100. (State data shows this bridge was replaced in 2021, which has not yet been reflected in the National Bridge Inventory.)
- In Jacksonville, the bridge on San Jose Boulevard over New Rose Creek, near University Boulevard.
- In Nassau County, County Road 200A over Lofton Creek, east of U.S. 17.
Of the 792 bridges in Duval County that are in the database, 509 are in good condition, 264 are in fair condition, and 19 are in poor condition — that’s just 2.4% of the bridges in the county.