MIDDLEBURG, Fla. - After a bridge inspector uncovered potential safety issues with the County Road 218 bridge over Black Creek on Tuesday, forcing the bridge to be closed to traffic, drivers have been detoured well out of their way, causing heavy delays, particularly for Clay County's school bus routes.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we are closing the County Road 218 Bridge and are working toward an appropriate solution," Clay County spokeswoman Kimberly Morgan wrote in an email.
The road is a pipeline for residents and businesses, and many drivers are frustrated by the delays.
“We have to go all the way to Henley Road. It's probably a good 15 miles we have to go out of our way to just get back to here,” Carla Renshaw said.
County officials recommended motorists detour onto State Road 16. A News4Jax crew drove the detour route, which took 20 minutes, instead of the usual 3 minutes, to get vehicles back onto County Road 218.
The 29 school bus routes affected by the bridge closure include 11 schools:
- Middleburg Elementary
- Wilkinson Elementary
- Wilkinson Junior High
- Lake Asbury Junior High
- Lake Asbury Elementary
- Fleming Island Elementary
- Ridgeview High School
- Shadowlawn Elementary
- Clay High School
- Rideout Elementary
- Coppergate Elementary
School officials have advised all Middleburg High School bus riders to arrive at stops 30 minutes ahead of scheduled to account for delays because of the bridge closure.
It's unclear how long it will take to reopen the major Clay County artery.
News4Jax found a 2016 National Bridge Inventory report on the bridge that rated it functionally obsolete. The inventory found minor deteriorating of structural elements, substructure and superstructure. A 2010 report proposed rehabilitation at an estimated cost of $1.3 million.
Drivers throughout the area are having to be patient as work is completed to make roads safe again after Hurricane Irma’s destruction.
St. Johns County
As St. Johns County continues evaluating damage, crews discovered the bridge on Roscoe Boulevard between Landrum Lane and Canal Boulevard has “significant erosion around the bridge and roadway.” The bridge is closed and work could take two to four weeks.
Several culverts near or under roads around the county also experienced damage and more are being identified each day, officials said. These repairs are often done by county staff and are handled as soon as possible, including repairs where possible or replacement of the pipes and road repairs as needed.
Road shoulders may show signs of erosion in areas where roads were flooded or over wash occurred. County staff identifies these and will continue to make repairs over the next several weeks.
Roads that were inundated during the storm will be evaluated in the near future for damage to the road base. In these cases, the road may need “full depth reclamation” or other repairs. This will be a longer process requiring some geotechnical work and inspections, officials said.
According to Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, only one bridge is closed: Stokes Road Bridge, which is at the Florida/Georgia line off County Road 121 in the Bryceville area.
No bridges are closed in Putnam County, and 99 percent of road repairs have been completed, according to the county's public works and emergency operations personnel.
Debris removal is still a big project in the county, and power is 99.9 percent restored with only 10 customers without power as of Wednesday.
There are no road or bridge closures that the Sheriff’s Office is aware of at this time. News4Jax hasn't heard back from the emergency management office.
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