FDOT estimates $3 million to repair bridge

Engineers evaluate Mathews Bridge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Engineers are working around the clock to assess the damage to the Mathews Bridge after Thursday's ship strike.

The Florida Department of Transportation's Mike Goldman told Channel 4 Friday night that the preliminary estimation of damage to the bridge is nearly $3 million. 

After 24 hours of inspection, engineers found the accident severed a chord, a Gusset plate and disconnected a steal support beam near the top of the span.

"This is about as severe as you can get without a collapse," said FDOT Engineer Section Manager Will Watts.

Watts is leading the inspection and maintenance crew on the battered bridge. He said the USNS Harry L. Martin crippled a significant portion of the bridge.

"So far, most of the damage from what you all have seen has been localized. That's the good news," said Watts.

Goldman told Channel 4 that preliminary findings put the estimation of the damage on the bridge at $3 million.

IMAGES: 1st DOT closeup images of damage


So far, a group of engineers is inspecting the bridge day and night. Their first goal is to temporarily fix the bridge to ensure the structure can sustain the weight of heavy equipment. Then, the group will work towards finding a permanent solution to fixing the bridge.

"The full data assessment is happening today and we will sort through it tonight and have a better idea this weekend. Right now, we don't have a good feel for the number of days," said Watts. "But it should be days and not months that we should be able to get this back into shape."

The Coast Guard is continuing their investigation as to what occurred in the water and how the ship hit the bridge. The Coast Guard is reviewing the crew aboard the USNS Harry L. Martin and reviewing the ships records.

Crew members are also undergoing drug and alcohol testing.