Safety at top of drivers’ minds when crossing Buckman Bridge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A recent crash on the Buckman Bridge has News4Jax looking for answers on whether the artery between Mandarin and Clay County is safe enough for drivers.

On Wednesday, the Florida Highway Patrol said a car that was broken down was hit from behind by another driver. Two people in the stalled car were killed.

Drivers who spoke to News4Jax said they think about their safety as they frequently cross the bridge.

“The way the roads are, it’s too tight,” said Zyaire Cannon, a driver.

“It could open up a little wider,” said Laura Perez, who also frequently crosses the bridge.

In 2015, a woman and three children were killed in a fiery crash on the bridge. In 2014, a car went over the side and into the water, and in 2012, a passenger was thrown into the water after a vehicle overturned.

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson advised drivers to slow down while crossing the bridge and avoid high speed drivers. He said people with unreliable forms of transportation should consider an alternate route before taking the bridge.

News4Jax asked the following questions to the Department of Transportation:

  • Is the bridge adequately designed for driver safety?
  • Are the closed emergency lanes creating a safety hazard?
  • Is the current state of the bridge partly responsible for Wednesday’s crash?

The DOT could not answers specifics about Wednesday’s crash. A response from the DOT reads:

"While the corridor is under construction, a barrier wall has been placed along portions of the roadway, including the Buckman Bridge, to allow a safe space for construction crews to work and install these improvements. This barrier wall is for the safety of both the drivers and construction crews. Gaps in the barrier wall have been placed on the left side of the roadway for disabled motorists to move over until assistance can arrive.

"Traffic volumes along the corridor are at a level that would prevent the elimination of a travel lane. To accommodate construction, the right shoulder has been temporarily removed. To offset this, Road Rangers are on standby to respond to any breakdowns once notified and Florida Highway Patrol is positioned near the bridge for speed enforcement.

"An emergency stopping area is currently being maintained on the inside lane of the bridge. The location of this stopping area could change depending on the phase of construction.

“The Florida Department of Transportation will work with law enforcement to ascertain the details of the crash and will review for potential safety enhancements.”

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