JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation confirmed Monday that it will not be removing rubber mulch from beneath several Jacksonville overpasses despite a fire at a homeless camp under an I-95 overpass getting out of control because it was fueled by the mulch.
The FDOT said engineers reviewed the use of the rubber mulch, which has been in place since 2010 and is similar to rubber mulch used in lawn maintenance.
The tire mulch is made of recycled tires that are broken down into tiny pieces to look like wood mulch.
The mulch was placed under four overpasses during the “Big I” project several years ago to help with erosion control. The mulch is under the I-95 southbound ramp to I-10 westbound over Forest Street, the I-95 southbound overpass over McCoys Creek and two bridges on I-95 northbound over McCoys Creek.
The FDOT said removing the mulch would create more damage to the local environment than leaving it in place, so officials have instead changed the locks on gates surrounding the perimeter of the overpasses and will keep an eye out for trespassers on the property.
The fire sparked from a cooking fire under I-95 near McCoys Creek and spread to the ground covered in tire mulch. The dark smoke could be seen for miles.