Repairs complete on I-95 hole near downtown

Lane reopened at 10:30 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – All lanes have reopened after a large hole that opened up on I-95 Thursday afternoon caused headaches and heavy backup throughout the evening as many motorists were making their way over the Myrtle Avenue overpass.

The hole was spotted Thursday by a city worker, and the Florida Department of Transportation was working to repair the area for over five hours.

"A lot of times if you got an overweight tractor-trailer or something like that, or it could've been some type of equipment that made a big jolt on the concrete," Ron Tittle of FDOT said.

It's hard to say what caused the hole on one of the busiest interstates in Jacksonville, but Tittle said that thanks to a city roadway contractor with a very keen eye, FDOT was able to spring into action.

"He saw a little piece of concrete coming loose so he stopped and checked it out. He started calling and diverted some of the traffic, you know, putting out some flashing lights and getting people over," Tittle said.

That process would last into the night as workers broke up concrete and removed steel bars creating a hole that was about 4-feet long by 3-feet wide.

Workers were sandblasting and removed the steel from under the overpass and then put new steel in. They poured concrete into the area by 8:30 p.m. and were waiting for it to dry before opening up the interstate. The process took almost half a day but was necessary for the safety of drivers.

"It is in the best interest of everyone naturally. They want to make sure that our structures are safe and sound, which the structure is," Tittle said.

Tittle said the Department of Transportation budgets for incidents like this one and that drivers should prepare themselves for many more projects still to come.

"This year we're going to do $400 million of construction projects we're starting. Next year, 2016, we're going to be into $800 million, so there's a lot of work that has to be done. We're increasing the number of people moving to Florida, and we've got to have areas for them to drive on," Tittle said.

Congresswoman Corrine Brown also weighed in on the situation and said that with so many old roadways and bridges, Jacksonville's current situation is unacceptable.

Brown said according to the National Association of Engineers, America has been rated a D+ in infrastructure and if Florida got with the program and invested the necessary funds, Jacksonville and its residents could move forward.

"We have not done the investments that we need in the infrastructure," Brown said. "The gasoline taxes will not do it. We must do these investments or we're going to find other bridges to collapse."

Brown will be meeting Friday with some of the Transportation Committee to discuss a comprehensive bill that could potentially fund all roads and bridges.  The committee is currently working on funding.

"Our competition is not Georgia and Alabama. Our competition is the Chinese, the Japanese, and they understand the importance of moving people, goods and services, and we need to get with the program," Brown said.

State Representative Lake Ray, who is also a civil engineer, said it appears a crack developed in the concrete and may not have been initially visible from the surface, but visible underneath.  He believes it would have been seen in the next inspection.

"The reality is are that these are structures that have to be continuously examined. There is a process by which they examine all of our bridges and overpasses. Those are done in certain frequencies depending on the age of the structures and how much traffic they get," said Ray.