Florida lawmakers survey Mathews Bridge damage

State Sen. Audrey Gibson, Rep. Lake Ray survey damage to bridge

(FDOT photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Department of Transportation estimates the damage to the Mathews Bridge could cost $3 million to repair. The bridge was already undergoing $23 million in repairs since 2011 and according to the DOT, both projects could be done at the same time.

Sen. Audrey Gibson and Rep. Lake Ray got a chance to survey the damage to the Mathews Bridge. Gibson said she wanted to know the process and what it would take to get the bridge fixed.

"Even on terms of repair you got concrete, you got steel. Do you take out a section of the bridge and put it back together?" asked Gibson. "A lot of it will be steel components, so we can set up a shop up here on the bridge or off the bridge, and we can fix those pieces and it can be slid right into place."

Ray, who is also a civil engineer, voiced his concerns about how the bridge was damaged in the first place.

"And really get down to that, and second is, long term, making sure that in the future, we have an in-place plan for if one of our bridges gets taken out like this again," said Ray. "So, the ship is a U.S. Naval ship, so the U.S. government will be the one to be responsible. I'm sure that there will be some bantering back and fourth but I doubt that it will wind up in a lawsuit. It might, but my belief is that first and foremost the federal government should be responsible for it, and I believe that this should be at all levels. It shouldn't be just for the state and the repair."

The DOT estimates that it will take several days to temporarily fix the bridge and up to a month for permanent repairs.

Ray said he was planning a town meeting on Tuesday to update the public informed about the repair project, but a time and place were not yet determined.