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Jacksonville bridges a concern in icy conditions

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If Jacksonville has any weather-related problems Thursday morning, one concern will be the bridges.

They are always the first to see ice should the temperatures be cold enough.

The biggest concern will be the Main Street Bridge because it has a metal grating and there is a chance it would freeze before the others.

The Florida Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation are not expecting problems but are standing by just in case.

FHP said it will rely on troopers in their cars to radio in reports about the bridges, and it will be up to the troopers to decide if they should be closed.

"The travel lanes are usually going to stay drivable," FHP Capt. Keith Gaston said. "Where you would have a problem is where you have metal grating or an expansion joint that may freeze quicker or when you change lanes."

FHP said drivers should just be careful.

"If you see any kind of ice forming where the person would lose traction, but the biggest concern are not for cars but for motorcycles," Gaston said. "What is an inconvenience for a car could be a deadly decision for a motorcycle."

As for the other roadways, the city is keeping an eye on that. Steve Woodard, the head of the Emergency Operations Center, said officials have been in touch with each agency to stand by.

"We are certainly monitoring the situation with Public Works and others, but right now it's not a problem," Woodard said.

In conference calls Wednesday, officials said they were told by the National Weather Service not to expect the same types of conditions that occurred in Jacksonville in 1989, when most of the city's bridges were shut down.

Just in case, DOT has contracted with local companies to have sand and heavy equipment on standby should the weather call for it.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.